Aetna Inc. has decided against selling plans on Maryland’s online health insurance exchange after regulators cut the rates it could charge consumers for its plans.
Aetna, along with Coventry Health Care, which it acquired in early 2013, had expected to offer plans through the exchange until rate cuts brought premiums too low to cover plan costs, according to the company.
The decision came on the heels of Aetna’s decision to pull out of Georgia’s state health insurance exchange, and from its home state of Connecticut as well.
In Maryland, Aetna had filed a proposal with state insurance regulators to raise rates 25.4%. The rate the state approved was 29% lower than what Aetna sought, while other carriers saw their proposals cut back by as much as 33%.
“This is not a step that we take lightly,” wrote Aetna spokesman Walt Cherniak in a statement. “We believe it is critical that our plans not only be competitive, but also financially viable, allowing Aetna and Coventry to meet the long-term needs of the exchanges in which we choose to participate.”
Coventry has also pulled a dental plan to be offered on Maryland’s exchange. That plan’s rates had been approved without modification.
Rebecca Pearce, executive director of Maryland’s state exchange, Maryland Health Connection, says that Aetna’s departure does not affect an analysis that shows rates on the state’s exchange are competitive nationally. “The rates are still the lowest in the country,” Pearce told the Baltimore Sun. “I believe the plans will be competitively priced and people will find something that’s right for them.”
Consumers can begin shopping for a plan Oct. 1 when the states’ exchanges begin operation, with coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014, as required under the Affordable Care Act.