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The original stylized Aetna logo

Aetna, Inc. (; ) is an American health insurance company, providing a range of traditional and consumer directed health care insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmaceutical, dental, behavioral health, group life, long-term care, and disability plans, and medical management capabilities. Aetna is a member of the Fortune 100.



In 2005, the company had $1.1 billion in earnings.
Aetna's 2007 revenue, reported in 2008, was $27.6 billion.
Aetna's 2008 revenue, reported in 2009, was $31 billion.


Aetna provides health care, dental, pharmacy, group life, disability, and long-term care insurance and employee benefits, primarily through employer-paid (fully or partly) insurance and benefit programs, and through Medicare. Membership numbers: (as of March 31, 2008)

  • 17.467 million medical members
  • 14.166 million dental members
  • 10.951 million pharmacy members
  • 13.609 million group insurance members
  • 843,000+ health-care professionals
  • 490,000+ primary-care doctors and specialists
  • 4,919 hospitals

Lobbying and Campaign Contributions

Aetna has spent more than $2.0 million in 2009 on lobbying.[1] The company spent $809,793 between January 2009 and the end of March 2009 up 41 percent from the same period in 2008.[2] Aetna's campaign contributions include more than $110,000 to US Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) in 2009.[3] From 2005 through 2009, Aetna contributed $56,250 to Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, making Aetna the senator's seventh highest contributor over that time period.[4]

Quality of Care

In the California Health Care Quality Report Card 2011 Edition, Aetna received 2 out of 4 stars in Meeting National Standards of Care and 1 out of 4 in Members Rate Their HMO.[5] In the California Health Care Quality Report Card 2010 Edition,[6] Aetna received 3 out of 4 stars in both Meeting National Standards of Care and How Members Rate Their HMO, for a rating of "Good" (out of "Poor, " "Fair, " "Good, " or "Excellent").[7]

Current Leadership

  • Mark Bertolini - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
  • Meg McCarthy - Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer
  • Joseph Zubretsky - Chief Financial Officer


Aetna is the direct descendant of Aetna (Fire) Insurance Company, of Hartford, Connecticut.[8][9] The name was meant to invoke Mount Etna, at the time Europe's most active volcano.[10]



  • 1819 Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, Yale graduate and attorney, becomes second president of Aetna (Fire) Insurance Company, succeeding Thomas K. Brace. Ellsworth, who later became the first U. S. Patent Commissioner, served as Aetna's president for two years until 1821, when he resigned, but Ellsworth continued as a director for another 16 years. Ellsworth's brother, William Wolcott Ellsworth, also served as a director, as well as the company's first General Counsel.[11]


The Aetna building in Hartford

  • 1850 Aetna began operation of an Annuity Fund to sell life insurance, choosing Hartford, Connecticut judge Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley, who was a general counsel to the company and on its board of directors, to head it.[10] At the time, some church leaders and others believed life insurance was sinful.[9]
  • 1853 The Annuity department separated from Aetna Insurance to be incorporated as the Aetna Life Insurance Company, with Eliphalet Bulkeley as president.[10]
  • 1854 Aetna hired its first full-time employee, Thomas O. Enders, later to become company president.[10]
  • 1857 Aetna moved to new offices on Hungerford and Cone Streets in Hartford. The Panic of 1857 struck Hartford and the nation, causing the closing of all but one bank and many other businesses. Eliphalet Bulkeley blocked a move to liquidate the company during the economic downturn.[9][10]
  • The Aetna Insurance Company issued life insurance policies on an undetermined number of African-American slaves, naming their owners as beneficiaries.[12]


  • 1861 Aetna began offering participating life insurance policies which paid dividends to policyholders just as the mutual life insurance policies did. Aetna launched its new product with a promotional effort including higher commissions for its agents while most companies were cutting back due to the outbreak of the American Civil War and the consequent loss of premium payments from Southern policyholders. However, the death toll of the war coupled with the booming wartime economy caused an expansion of the life insurance business to match Aetna's expansion.[9][10]
  • 1865 By 1864 Aetna had increased its volume of business by 600% over 1861 and its annual premium income ninefold, exceeding one million dollars. As a result, Aetna possessed the financial stability and resources it needed to meet the stringent regulatory requirements placed on life insurance companies in Massachusetts and New York; by 1865 the company was authorized to begin soliciting business in these states.[10]
  • 1867 Company income rose from $78,000 in 1861 to $5,129,000 by 1867. Aetna moved to its third home office at 670 Main Street, Hartford. By 1924, Aetna had 94 million dollars, 43% of its assets, invested in farm mortgages.[10]
  • 1868 Aetna altered its business practices, hiring its first actuary and abandoning the half-note premium system in favor of an all-cash premium plan.


  • 1872 Eliphalet A. Bulkeley died and Thomas O. Enders became president.[10]
  • 1878 Aetna increased its capitalization from $150,000 to $750,000.[10]
  • 1879 Enders' failing health forced him to resign and Eliphalet Bulkeley's son Morgan G. Bulkeley replaced him.[10]


  • 1888 Aetna outgrew its old offices on 670 Main Street in Hartford and purchased its fourth home office, next door at 650 Main Street; the first building Aetna actually owned, and Aetna's home office for the next 42 years.[10]


  • 1891 Aetna issued its first accident policy, purchased by Morgan Bulkeley himself.[10]
  • 1892 Aetna held its first general agents conference in Chicago.[10]
  • 1899 Aetna became one of the first publicly held insurance companies to enter the health insurance field.[10]

1900s (decade)

  • 1902 Aetna created an Accident and Liability department to offer employers' liability and workmen's collective insurance, in reaction to the growing strength of the Progressive social reform movement. This would become the cornerstone of the Aetna Accident and Liability Company.[10]
  • 1903 An Engineering and Inspection Division was created to improve workplace safety.[10]
  • 1904 Aetna introduced its first corporate seal, conveying Aetna's status as the largest life insurer in the world writing accident, health and liability coverage; the logo portrayed the company's home office bursting out from within a globe, with large block typeface spelling out Aetna's ranking.[10]
  • 1907 Aetna created a casualty subsidiary to handle items such as automobile property coverage; Aetna soon began aggressively expanding into related lines such as collision and damage. This business developed into the Aetna Casualty and Surety Company.[10]
  • 1908 Aetna hired its first home office female employee (Julia Kinghorn, telephone switchboard operator), the first of what has become more than two-thirds of Aetna s employees.[10]


  • 1910 Under the management of E. E. Cammack, Aetna began using Hollerith punched cards machines for tabulating and hired 35 women to input mortality statistics on keypunch machines, the company's first female home office clerks.[10]
  • 1911 Aetna began its first national advertising campaign. The same year, Aetna formed a bond department to market fidelity and surety coverages.[10]
  • 1912 Aetna introduced the first combination automobile policy, with several separate types of coverage combined into one contract. Several Aetna insureds were killed on the RMS Titanic.[10]
  • 1913 Aetna formed its second affiliate, the Automobile Insurance Company, to write fire insurance on cars. This soon expanded to include windstorm, tornado, leasehold, and ocean and inland marine insurance. Aetna formed a Group department to sell group life insurance, one of the first insurers to do so; the first step towards Aetna s current health care business.[10]


  • 1960 Aetna expanded outside the U. S., buying a Canadian company, Excelsior Life Insurance Company. In 1968, it bought a majority interest in Producer's and Citizen's Cooperative Assurance Company, of Sydney, Australia. In 1981, it bought a 40 percent interest in two Chilean companies, and soon thereafter invested in ventures in England, Spain, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Korea.


  • Between 1996 and 1999, Aetna initiated a series of company acquisitions. In 1998, Aetna bought NYLCare Health Plans for $1.05 billion, adding 2.2 million members. The next year, it bought Prudential HealthCare for $1 billion, making it the largest provider of health benefits in the U. S., with more than 21 million members. The company spent more than $20 million that it received in fees and premiums from customers to revamp its computer systems, enabling the company to identify and discontinue unprofitable accounts. With this new and extensive information about policyholders, new management, and a shift in strategy, Aetna sharply raised premiums on less profitable accounts. Within a few years, Aetna shed 8 million covered lives due to premiums that customers could no longer afford.[13]

2000s (decade)

  • 2000 Aetna hired John W. Rowe as CEO and executive chairman. Rowe cut approximately 15,000 jobs and raised insurance premiums by 16 percent per year. He also shrunk Aetna's customer base from 19 million members to 13 million by abandoning unprofitable markets, including almost half of the counties nationwide in which it offered Medicare products.[14][15]
  • 2000 Aetna sold its financial services and international businesses to ING for $7.7 billion, spun off its health business to its shareholders, thus focusing its business as an independent health and group benefits company.
  • 2006 John Rowe ended his 65 months as CEO and executive chairman of Aetna; during his tenure, the former Harvard geriatrician earned $225,000 a day (including Sundays and holidays).[16]
  • 2007 Aetna chief medical officer Troy Brennan told the Aetna Investor Conference that, "The (U. S.) healthcare system is not timely. " He cited "recent statistics from the Institution of Healthcare Improvement that people are waiting an average of about 70 days to try to see a provider. And in many circumstances people initially diagnosed with cancer are waiting over a month, which is intolerable. "[17]
  • 2007 Aetna acquired plan operator Schaller Anderson in July, signaling a push into the growing business of running plans for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.[18]
  • 2008 Aetna CEO Ron Williams received $38.12 million in compensation - the highest annual compensation in the insurance sector and the 22nd-highest compensation of all American CEOs.[19][20]
  • 2008 Aetna began offering pet health insurance in Alabama, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota and Texas, with plans to quickly expand to all 50 states. As the new underwriter for Pets Best policies, we look forward to working closely with Pets Best and the AVMA GHLIT to extend the reach of the pet insurance industry to bring trusted, affordable pet health insurance products to pet owners nationwide, said Gretchen Spann, Aetna s head of pet insurance.[21]
  • 2008 Aetna's 2008 revenue, excluding net realized capital losses, increased 14 percent over 2007 to $31.6 billion.[22]


  • Through June 30, Aetna took in $14 billion in premiums: $10.7 billion of that amount from employers and employees, $2.9 billion more from Medicare recipients who bought a supplemental insurance plan to cover the gaps in what Medicare covers, and another $400 million for handling Medicaid claims. Aetna reported that it paid out $11.9 billion in health care reimbursements and $2.3 billion in administrative expenses (20 percent).[23]
  • On September 22, more than 200 people gathered in front of Aetna's Hartford headquarters to call for a public health insurance option they said is essential to true national health care reform. The insurance industry, including Aetna, has opposed a public option.[24]
  • On October 2, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Healthcare Advocate Kevin P. Lembo asked Aetna and four other insurance companies for information the companies may have sent policyholders regarding the impact of proposed legislation on Medicare Advantage and prescription drug programs. According to Blumenthal, some insurance companies have exaggerated or stretched the impact of health care reform.[25]
  • On October 27, Aetna stock values shot up when U. S. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut broke with the Democratic caucus that he is a member of and vowed to join a Republican-led filibuster if the public option was not removed from the Senate's health care reform bill.[26]
  • On October 30, Aetna reported a third quarter profit increase of 18 percent.[27]
  • On November 3, US Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, launched an investigation into health insurance pricing, asking Aetna and three other major insurers to justify their pricing practices. The investigation began after small business owners testified before Harkin's committee that skyrocketing health care premiums were severely hurting their livelihoods.[28]
  • On November 19, Aetna announced the layoff off some 3.5% of its work force 625 employees now and a similar number of reductions early next year. The current cuts include 160 jobs in Connecticut.[29][30] "Streamlining our business now will enable us to improve our competitiveness and redirect resources to areas with a greater potential for future growth, " said Aetna CEO Ron Williams.[31] During the third quarter of 2009, Aetna earned $326.2 million, or 73 cents per share. That represents an increase from $277.3 million, or 58 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.[32]
  • On November 30, Aetna CEO Ron Williams told analysts that Aetna would increase prices in 2010 and force 600,000 to 650,000 Aetna customers to drop their coverage.[33] Aetna President Mark Bertolini justified the move as "ensuring that each customer is priced to an appropriate margin. "[34] Aetna chief executive Ronald Williams owns 7.6 million Aetna stock and options.
  • On December 7, Aetna filed a $4.9 billion correction to its 2008 health insurance regulatory filings. The new filings show that Aetna spends less on small business health care than previously reported. Health insurance companies have a duty to provide accurate financial information both to consumers and to their regulators about how much money they actually spend on health care and how much they spend on profits, on executive salaries, and on figuring out how to deny care to people when they really need it, said Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Unfortunately, it looks like Aetna and other health insurers haven t been taking this duty very seriously. I m disappointed that my Committee had to launch a full-scale congressional investigation to get these companies to meet their basic reporting obligations. [35]
  • On December 14, Aetna stocks rose dramatically after U. S. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut threatened to filibuster the Senate health care reform bill if it included a Medicare buy-in proposal.[36][37]
  • December 29: Aetna chief executive Ron Williams owns approximately 7.6 million Aetna stock and options. The price gain for Aetna stocks of $8.50 from October lows to December 29 adds at least $37 million in value to Williams' holdings.[38]


  • On January 19, Aetna stocks rose $1.23 to $32.59, due to the possibility that a Republican candidate could win a previously Democratic U. S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. Such a victory could deprive Democrats of the 60-vote majority they need in the Senate to stop a potential filibuster of the national healthcare reform bill.[39]
  • On February 3, Aetna laid off more than 100 Connecticut workers. This follows the lay off of 160 Connecticut Aetna employees in November 2009.[40]
  • On February 6, Aetna reported 2009 fourth-quarter net income of $165.9 million, or 38 cents per share, on $8.69 billion in revenue.[41]
  • On April 30, Aetna announced a 29 percent increase in net income for the first quarter of 2010 compared with the same quarter a year ago, as the insurer benefited from higher investment income.[42]
  • In April, Aetna notified policyholders that it was in a contract dispute with Continuum Health Partners and that its contract with Continuum Health Partners would lapse as of June 5, 2010. Continuum Health Partners comprises five major New York City hospitals: Beth Israel Medical Center, Roosevelt Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital, Long Island College Hospital and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. The June 5th date passed and the contract lapsed, an outcome that could mean much higher costs for thousands of New Yorkers.[43] Aetna is obligated in its contract with doctors to retain those doctors in-network for a policyholder for a period of a year or until the expiration date of the policyholder's contract, whichever comes first. Aetna did not inform policyholders of this fact. Continuum Health provided a form to policyholders to make this request.[44] U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has asked executives of Aetna and Continuum Health Parnters to re-enter negotiations, saying, "I urge you to re-enter negotiations on a new three-year agreement for reimbursement rates, for the sake of the patients that need health coverage. "[45] In July, the Faculty Union of Pratt Institute, United Federation of College Teachers Local 1460, prepared a letter to Aetna expressing their unhappiness over the termination of the contract.[46]
  • In June, Crystal Run Healthcare, a 170-doctor group practice in Orange County, New York and Sullivan County, New York, announced that it would terminate its contract with Aetna on July 31, 2011.[47][48] Crystal Run stated that, "Aetna proposes to pay us significantly less than other commercial health care plans with whom we contract. Despite good faith efforts, we cannot come to an agreement at this time. We want to afford every opportunity to our patients to make informed choices regarding their health care coverage. " Aetna replied, "It is extraordinary that a responsible physician group would alarm patients in this manner more than a year before there could be any impact to those patients. "[49]
  • On July 27, Aetna reported that its second-quarter profit rose 42 percent, as the percentage of premiums the company spent on medical care fell versus a year ago. The insurer earned $491 million, or $1.14 a share, in the three months ended June 30. That compares with net income of $346.6 million, or 77 cents a share, in the same period last year.[50]
  • On September 9, Aetna announced that it would demolish its structure in Middletown, Connecticut that once housed approximately 5,000 Aetna employees on a campus. Aetna has not said exactly how it will redevelop the site, although a data center currently located there will remain regardless of future plans.[51]

Fines, Lawsuits and Settlements


  • A jury in California awarded $116 million in punitive damages for "malice, oppression and fraud" to a patient's widow who contended he died after a subsidiary of Aetna delayed approving treatment for stomach cancer that its own doctors had recommended. Lawyers on both sides called it the largest such verdict against a health maintenance organization. In 2001 a settlement was reached.[52][53][54]


  • The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a $1,855,000 federal jury award for Brokerage Concepts Inc. (BCI) against Aetna U. S. Healthcare (formerly U. S. Healthcare), its Pennsylvania subsidiary, and one of its former senior executives, Richard Wolfson. In its suit, BCI accused Aetna U. S. Healthcare of tortious interference with contractual relations. BCI alleged the managed-care company used its economic power in the business of prescription drug sales to coerce one BCI's clients, the "I Got It at Gary's" pharmacy chain, into using another Aetna U. S. Healthcare subsidiary, Corporate Health Administrators, as its health benefits management firm. According to the suit, Aetna U. S. Healthcare threatened to drop "I Got it at Gary's" from its pharmacy network if the company didn't switch to Corporate Health Administrators.[55]


  • The Maryland Insurance Commissioner ordered five Maryland health plans to pay a total of $1.4 million in penalties for failing to comply with the state's claims payment practices; Aetna was cited twice and ordered to pay the largest fine of $850,000.[56]
  • The State of Texas fined Aetna $1.15 million for failing to promptly pay doctors and hospitals for services. Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor also ordered Aetna to pay restitution to physicians and health care providers who did not receive timely payment for claims.[57]


  • The New York Department of Insurance fined Aetna US Healthcare and UnitedHealthcare a total of $2.5 million, citing a litany of bungled claims, improper treatment denials, unlicensed health insurance agents, and poorly performing claims processors using out-of-date software.[58]
  • Aetna agreed to streamline communications, reduce administrative complexity, and improve the quality of the health care system, ending litigation between Aetna and 700,000 physicians and medical societies. The physicians' lawsuit, settled for $470 million, charged Aetna with systematically reducing payments to physicians and overriding their treatment decisions.[59]


  • Aetna and the American Dental Association (ADA) announced a class-action settlement by dentists who accused Aetna of interfering with dental procedures to cut costs and forcing dentists to comply with excessive paperwork. The settlement called for Aetna to pay $4 million to 40,000 to 50,000 dentists and $1 million to the ADA Foundation, a charitable group.[60]
  • Georgia Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine fined Aetna's Prudential Health Plan $100,000 for violating Georgia's prompt pay law by delaying claims payments. Aetna companies had been fined four previous times by Oxendine's office, in 2000 and again in 2002, for a total of $411,200.[61]


  • The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance filed an administrative order levying a $9.5 million fine against Aetna for refusing to appropriately cover certain services provided by out-of-network providers including emergency treatment in violation of New Jersey rules and regulations.[62]


  • Former Aetna employee Cornelius Allison of Darby, Pa., filed suit against Aetna in U. S. District Court in Pennsylvania after hackers gained access to a company Web site holding personal data for 450,000 current and former employees as well as job applicants. The suit charged Aetna with negligence, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and invasion of privacy.[63]
  • The Arizona Department of Insurance fined Aetna Life Insurance Company and Aetna Health, Inc. after examination of their practices exposed multiple violations of Arizona insurance laws. The department found that Aetna violated significant state laws governing important areas of health insurance operations, including Aetna's: failure to provide policyholders with information about their rights on appeals of medical claims or services denials; failure to acknowledge receipt of policyholder appeals; failure to notify policyholders about appeal decisions/outcomes; and, in some appeals involving the denial of services for potentially life threatening conditions, failure to inform policyholders of their decision within the required, expedited time frames.[64]


  • Aetna paid a $750,000 fine as part of a settlement with the New York Insurance Department related to the company administering an affordable healthcare plan for the state. Aetna's violations included failing to provide a required 30-day notice of rate increases to about 946 members in 2007, failing to provide notice to 1,406 terminated workers of their rights to convert to another policy, failing to report enrollment data from May 2007 through August 2008, and failing to respond to Insurance Department requests for data in March 2008.[65]

Life insurance policies on slaves

In 2000 Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, head of the nonprofit Restitution Study Group of Hoboken, New Jersey, disclosed that from approximately 1853 to approximately 1860 Aetna had issued life insurance policies to slaveowners covering the lives of their slaves.[66]

Aetna acknowledged that concrete evidence exists for Aetna issuing coverage for the lives of slaves and released a public apology.[67]

The US Department of Commerce has determined that in modern US dollars slavery generated trillions of dollars for the US economy.[68] In 2002, Farmer-Paellmann brought suit against Aetna and two other companies in federal court asking for reparations for the descendants of slaves. The lawsuit said Aetna, CSX and Fleet were "unjustly enriched" by "a system that enslaved, tortured, starved and exploited human beings. " It argued that African-Americans are still suffering the effects of 2 centuries of enslavement followed by more than a century of institutionalized racism. The complaint blamed slavery for present-day disparities between blacks and whites in income, education, literacy, health, life expectancy and crime.[12]

This suit was denied, and the denial largely upheld on appeal.[69][70]

In 2006, Farmer-Paellmann announced a nationwide boycott of Aetna over the issue of reparations for its policies covering slaves. Aetna stated that its commitment to diversity in the workplace and its investment of over 36 million dollars in such areas as education, health, economic development, community partnerships, and minority-owned business initiatives in the African-American community is more effective at aiding descendants of slaves and African-Americans in general than making restitutions for Aetna's life insurance policies on slaves.[71][72][73][74][75][76]

See also


External links

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