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Arminda Murillo, 54, reads a leaflet at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, Calif., March 27, 2014. (REUTERS) Arminda Murillo, 54, reads a leaflet at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, Calif., March 27, 2014. (REUTERS)  

Aetna CEO: Expect A Rate Hike Of ‘Less Than 20 Percent’

Top health insurance company Aetna will ask for Obamacare premium hikes of generally less than 20 percent, CEO Mark Bertolini said Wednesday.

Bertolini spoke at a Goldman Sachs health care conference in Los Angeles, but did not specify what percentage rates would climb, Reuters reports. It seems that the average Aetna Obamacare customer will have some level of double-digit rate hike.

Bertolini said that Aetna customers are regularly disenrolling from their Obamacare coverage, but that Aetna projects that it will have 450,000 exchange customers at the end of the year. He suspects that customers are dropping their Obamacare coverage due to high out-of-pocket costs.

Aetna has repeatedly warned that Obamacare regulations would cause large rate hikes since the health care law went into action.

In December, Bertolini told investors that in some markets, premium increases could be “as high as 100 percent,” Forbes reported. “We’ve done all that math. We’ve shared it with all the regulators. We’ve shared it with all the people in Washington that need to see it. And I think it’s a big concern.”

It’s not clear what caused Bertolini to downgrade his predictions, but the insurance industry have been pushing Washington for help on reducing ever-growing premium prices. In May, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a ruling that raised the possibility of widening risk corridor payments, an Obamacare provision meant to keep premiums artificially low through 2016. (RELATED: Top Health Economist Predicts Obamacare Will Ultimately Boost Number Of Uninsured)

While the risk corridor program was intended to redistribute payments from all insurers to those companies struggling on the exchanges, HHS opened the possibility of using additional taxpayer funding to pay insurers as well. (RELATED: Obama Admin Rule Opens Door To Insurance Company Bailout) 

While premiums have continued to rise, despite Obamacare supporters’ promises that the health care law would control costs, experts have predicted that insurers won’t feel the full weight of Obamacare regulations until 2017, when the temporary risk corridor provisions are ended. (RELATED: Obamacare Insurer Bailout Could Cue Up premium hikes before 2016 election)

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