News & Commentary

Chairman, President and CEO Joe Swedish Responds to The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

Thursday, August 10, 2017
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On August 2nd, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board published a commentary on health care reform efforts and the state of the individual insurance market, which included language that was critical of the health insurance industry. As part of his continued commitment to our members, and to serving as a leading voice in our industry, Chairman, President and CEO Joe Swedish sent the following response to the Journal’s Editorial Board.

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Regarding your editorial “The Coming ObamaCare Bailout,” (August 2): the Journal’s mischaracterization of health insurance companies and our role in working to improve our health care system was deeply concerning and misleading.

Insurers are not the enemy. Our mission at Anthem is to promote access to affordable, quality health care. It is a responsibility that I, along with our 53,000 associates, take seriously for the more than 40 million members we serve, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Nor are insurers the problem. The government created the rules, and Anthem precisely followed these rules, providing coverage options for over 1.5 million consumers in the individual marketplace. It is the responsibility of the government to fulfill these commitments, including cost sharing reduction (CSR) funds. CSRs are not a “bail out,” but benefit consumers in the form of reduced cost sharing by lowering premiums – unquestionably they are an important component in creating access and affordability.

Anthem has continued participating in exchanges across the country, even in the face of ongoing volatility driven by continual changes in federal rules and guidance. We are extremely proud of our 75-year history of providing health insurance to individuals and their families. However, the current uncertainty has forced us to make difficult decisions about our participation in some regions for 2018 and has left us in the untenable position where, in some areas, we are no longer able to offer consumers products of sufficient quality and price.

In order to continue caring for America’s health, the market needs stability. The industry continues to seek the balance of shared responsibility with policy makers to identify solutions that achieve this goal. The editorial’s assertion that “insurers worked to defeat” recent health reform legislation in Congress is false. Anthem and the industry in fact supported many of these individual market stabilization proposals.

Ultimately, the debate about insurance and CSR funds is a distraction from the real problem in our health system – the ever-spiraling cost of care and its contribution to the melting ice cube effect that creates unaffordable and inaccessible health care. The best approach going forward is to find consensus on real long-term solutions to improve our health care system for all Americans.

 

Joseph R. Swedish

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Anthem, Inc.

Indianapolis, Indiana

 

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