Calvin Freiburger writes that yesterday we learned that one of the country’s biggest names in health insurance, Aetna, would pull out of all Obamacare exchanges, effective 2018. Now, the stock market has responded to the news in an entirely predictable, yet still striking and important way.
Fox Business reports that its shares reached an all-time high today, the culmination of a ten-day rise that represented its longest winning streak in fourteen years. And no, the timing isn’t coincidental — eight days ago, Aetna announced it will ditch the Virginia exchanges next year:
The stock touched $144.60 per share toward the end of the session Thursday, up more than 1 percent on the day. Shares are up more than 16 percent so far this year […]
“Our individual Commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership. Those losses are the result of marketplace structural issues that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and subsequent risk pool deterioration,” the company said in a statement.
Aetna is by no means the first insurer to abandon Obamacare; Humana has announced a complete withdrawal while UnitedHealth has already mostly (though not all) left the exchanges. It is, however, the largest insurer yet to give the hated government healthcare scheme what amounts to a vote of no confidence.
Trump administration Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has called Aetna’s decision yet another addition to “the mountain of evidence that ObamaCare has failed the American people.”
And naturally, speculation abounds that Aetna’s decision will trigger a “domino effect” of ensurers rapidly abandoning Obamacare to beat the June 21 deadline for when they have to decide whether they’ll participate.
It’s been obvious for years that Obamacare desperately needs to go, and it’s getting more undeniable by the day. Shamefully, however, it remains a very open question whether this week’s news will be the final shot in the arm Congress needs to put the failed law out of its misery.