During a recent private meeting with shareholders, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini suggested Americans should start the discussion about single-payer insurance, but does it mean what we think it means?
Leaked discussion reports him saying, “Single-payer, I think we should have that debate as a nation.”
Why would the CEO of America’s fifth-largest private insurance company call for a switch to a single-payer system run by the government? Make no mistake, Bertolini also stated that “government-run health care would be a bad idea.”
Turns out, he doesn’t want the government to administer the program. He just wants them to pay for it. His statement was just the beginning of Bertolini’s answer to a question posed during that private meeting. An Aetna employee had asked if efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act could lead to a single-payer structure.
An Aetna spokesperson clarified the seemingly confusing statement, saying that Bertolini was encouraging a debate on the topic, given the success of other public-private partnership health care programs, like Medicare and Medicaid.
Bertolini pointed out that, “the government doesn’t administer anything. The first thing they’ve ever tried to administer in social programs was the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and that didn’t go so well.”
Countries like Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom use a single-payer system, providing close to universal health care coverage. Other countries use a hybrid public/private structure. Bertolini supports the latter, saying “if the government wants to pay all the bills, and employers want to stop offering coverage, and we can be there in a public-private partnership to do the work we do today with Medicare and Medicaid at every state level – we run the Medicaid programs for them – then let’s have that conversation.”