NU Online News Service, June 14, 3:35 p.m. – Aetna Inc., Hartford, one of the country’s largest health insurers, says it is shutting down its health maintenance organization plans in some counties in California.

Aetna has been struggling in the past six months to improve profits amid rising medical costs.

Aetna says it has notified the California Department of Managed Health Care that it intends to withdraw its HMO-based products from 11 counties in the state’s Central Valley, as well as from 12 ZIP codes in rural Riverside and San Bernardino counties in inland southern California.

The move will affect about 44,000 of the 1.8 million Aetna members in California, Aetna says.

The withdrawal wo;; become effective for group renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2002.

Aetna is withdrawing its commercial HMO, “QPOS” and “USAccess” products from Napa, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado, Sacramento, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tuolumne and Tulare counties, and partially withdraw from Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the company says.

In recent weeks, Aetna has announced it is also discontinuing HMO product offerings in St. Louis and Louisiana.