- Reuters/Jason Reed
President Barack Obama is enlisting the help of some health insurance companies to try to fix the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Obama dropped by a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and 13 health insurance CEOs, including the CEOs of Humana and Cigna, to emphasize the need to work together on the ACA’s public marketplaces.
In addition to the meeting, Obama sent a letter to the CEO of every health insurance company participating in the exchanges asking for help improving them.
Obama acknowledged that there have been struggles during the first few years of the exchanges.
“We know that this progress has not been without challenges,” the letter said. “Most new enterprises have growing pains and opportunities for improvement. The marketplace, while strong, is no exception. Time and experience will help drive that improvement, as will constructive policy changes.”
Obama said Burwell and her department are working on making needed changes, as is his administration, but that the government needed the support of the companies to make it work.
“To that end, I want to enlist your help as we head into this fourth annual open enrollment period,” the letter said. “We know that signing up more uninsured Americans for coverage generates benefits all around.”
The letter says the administration is attempting to address some challenges, including the fact that fewer young people than expected are signing up through the public exchanges, making it costlier for insurers.
Here’s Obama (emphasis added):
“And since the remaining uninsured are disproportionately younger and healthier, signing them up improves the risk pool and consequently the affordability of coverage for all enrollees.
“Secretary Burwell has developed a data-driven plan to find and enroll those who still lack coverage, including by stepping up the outreach activities that worked best over the last 3 years; working with the Department of the Treasury to reach out to uninsured people who paid the individual responsibility fee for 2015; and increasing our focus on enrolling young adults.
“We are also hosting a Millennial Outreach and Engagement Summit at the White House on September 27 focused exclusively on how to enroll more youth in the Marketplace during open enrollment. We welcome efforts to increase your outreach during this open enrollment period.”
Obama said the “work is not over” in implementing the ACA.
Of note, the CEOs of Aetna and United Healthcare were not in attendance. Both companies are part of the “Big Five” nationwide insurers and have announced plans to substantially roll back their Obamacare coverage.