Aetna Inc. has started marketing health maintenance organization plans in the Washington area.[@@]

Aetna, Hartford, has received permission from federal regulators to sell HMO plans in the District of Columbia; Fairfax County, Va.; and Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George counties in Maryland.

All HMO plan designs will cover 100% of the cost for routine preventive care, and Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in 3 of the plan designs on the menu without paying any premiums, Aetna says.

In related news, Aetna will be selling Medicare point-of-service plans, which allow easier access than HMOs to out-of-network doctors and hospitals, in Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George counties in Maryland.

Aetna says it hopes to be selling Medicare managed care plans in 13 states by 2006, up from 5 today. The company also intends to be a national player in the new Medicare prescription drug program.