Aetna Inc. plans to stay out of the U.S. individual major medical insurance market in 2018, according to Mark Bertolini.
Bertolini, the Hartford-based company’s chairman, talked briefly about Aetna’s plans for 2018 during a conference call the company held to discuss fourth-quarter earnings with securities analysts.
“We have no intention of being in the market for 2018,” Bertolini said, in response to a question from an analyst. “There’s no possible way we’d be able to do that, given the unclear nature of where regulation is headed.”
If Aetna were trying to participate in the market in 2018 under the rules now in effect, it would have to have products and rates ready by April, Bertolini said.
Aetna would like to help shape the transition to whatever system will be in place in 2019, and it hopes to return to the individual market in 2019, Bertolini said.
Aetna, which once was an enthusiastic supporter of the Affordable Care Act public exchange system, sharply reduced participation in the individual major medical this year, after reporting in mid-2016 that early 2016 losses were much higher than it had expected.
The company now has about 240,000 individual major medical enrollees, down from 965,000 at the end of 2016, executives said.
About 190,000 of the current individual health enrollees have coverage purchased through an ACA public exchange program.
An antitrust judge recently suggested that Aetna might have exaggerated individual health market concerns, and cut back individual health market operations, to increase the odds that Aetna’s proposed acquisition of Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana Inc. would get through the antitrust review process. The judge ruled against the deal.
Aetna executives said the company’s individual health business really did do poorly in 2016, and that the actual full-year loss was about $450 million, up from a loss prediction of $350 million made earlier in the year.
Bertolini said the company is still reviewing the antitrust case ruling and may file an appeal.