Posts Tagged - ‘aetna’

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Health Insurance Company CEO Retiring

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Image: Listphile

Health insurance companies are going through many changes at the moment. For Aetna, this is just one more: their CEO, Ronald A. Williams, is stepping down from that role next month. (He will retire from the company entirely early next year.) Williams was the chief executive officer since 2006, and was in charge of the lucrative segment of health insurance plans during a period of soaring costs.

Who will replace him? Aetna President Mark T. Bertolini is being promoted to fill the gap. Bertolini will also have a seat on the board of directors. However, Williams will still be involved as a consultant on healthcare reform issues until February 2012. He will receive $20,000 a month for those services, in addition to a retirement package valued at over $7 million. (Presumably, his health insurance is fully covered.)

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Do Health Insurance Stocks’ Profits Hurt Patients?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Image: kevinzhengli under CC 3.0

According to financial analyst Sarah James, the health insurance industry is a great investment. Profits are estimated to be higher in the third quarter of 2010, so firms like Aetna, Coventry, UnitedHealth, WellPoint, and Humana have had their price targets increased.

Unfortunately, what is positive for stockholders may not be as good for health insurance plan customers. One of the reasons for lower costs is a milder flu season than expected, which is obviously good for everyone. Increased enrollment is another explanation, which is generally neutral. Another, more worrying, factor is price increases.

Lower usage rates of costly inpatient hospital services could go either way: if the decline is because patients are truly becoming healthier and don’t need them, that’s great. However, if it is a result of insurers forcing patients into outpatient care before they are ready to cut their costs, it is not a good sign for consumers.

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Individual Health Insurance Coverage Denials Rose Since 2007

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Image: Oldmaison under CC 3.0

Over the past two years (ending in 2009), four major health insurers’ rates of denying coverage to individual health insurance plan applicants rose by 50%.

A report from the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee claims that WellPoint, Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Humana purposely refused to sell coverage to over 600,000 people with pre-existing conditions. Up to 425 health conditions could disqualify a person from coverage under one insurer, and some would not conduct further internal review before denying coverage.

On the one hand, the insurers may have seen the writing on the wall when President Obama was elected, and wanted to maximize their profits as much as possible before regulations would limit their ability to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions.

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Are Child-Only Health Insurance Plans Falling By The Wayside?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Image: Pink Sherbet Photography under CC 3.0

Several health insurers, including Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross, will soon stop selling dedicated health insurance plans to children. These plans often appeal to parents who believe they cannot afford health insurance for the entire family, but decide to sacrifice for the sake of their kids. Still, children’s health insurance is a relatively small market by itself.

They blame newly effective provisions of the healthcare reform law that prevent them from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, which means that those plans will no longer be cost-effective for them to offer.

Which states will lose this option? So far, they are:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • Colorado
  • Arizona

Although there is a legitimate argument for the moral hazard of allowing adults with pre-existing conditions to forgo paying into the system when they are healthy and joining when they are sick, children have no choice in the matter. (The individual mandates that discourage this practice won’t go into effect until 2014–and may not survive a Supreme Court challenge.) Furthermore, unlike adults, children never contribute to their own health status by choice.

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