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Aetna Health Insurance Review

Aetna is one of the largest health-insurance providers in the world, with a net income of over $1.28 billion per year. The company employees over 35,000 people and is a Fortune 100 company, and is included in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

About Aetna Insurance

Aflac began in 1819 as the Aetna Fire Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The name was drawn from Mount Etna in Italy, an active volcano, and is meant to convey both magnitude and fire. The spelling “Aetna,” still used today, was current in the neo-classical times as it conveyed a sense of Greek to the spelling of common words.

The company grew until 1853, when the newly-developed life insurance section of the company was cleaved off to form its own division, the Aetna Life Insurance Company. The company was incorporated separately. By 1878, the company had $750,000 in capital, a truly large sum for those days.

In 1899, Aetna became one of the very first companies to offer health insurance. As a publicly-held corporation, the company was able to raise capital quickly to meet claims needs. In the mid-1990s, Aetna staged a series of company buyouts, absorbing smaller healthcare organizations tottering on the brink of insolvency and strengthening its coverage areas. Aetna used new computer technology to examine existing accounts of those companies it acquired, and quickly raised premiums on unprofitable accounts. Within a few years, the company had shed 8 million customers deemed as “unprofitable,” and the company’s profit margin rose sharply.

In 2000, Aetna sold off most of its non-health-related companies, including financial services and international businesses which were sold to ING. The company began to focus solely on health insurance issues, including strong campaigns against the “Healthcare Act” proposed by Congress.

What type of health insurance does Aetna offer?

Aetna offers a variety of healthcare-related products, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life, disability policies, and management for Medicaid plans. The company currently covers 18.3 million medical members, 13.8 dental members, and 8.8 pharmacy members. The company’s networks include over 1 million healthcare professionals, including 560,000 doctors, 5,300 hospitals, and specialists. Aetna is active in all 50 states.

Aetna offers “consumer-directed” health plans that are designed to allow individuals to tailor their healthcare to their individual needs. Aetna also offers additions to the “consumer-directed” plans, including healthcare spending accounts and health reimbursement arrangements. Consumer-directed plans are generally a special type of HMO, with higher deductibles and lower premiums. Many people can afford to get one of these plans when they cannot afford a traditional policy, because the plan allows you to adjust your deductible and coverage according to your needs. Rather than paying more for coverage you will not use, you simply pay for what you do use.

Specialized Health Insurance Coverage from Aetna

Aetna also offers several specialized types of policies. These policies include those for pets, to cover illness and injury and pay for veterinary care; and student coverage, a simpler and cheaper form of coverage for young people.

Aetna’s pharmacy plan is designed to save money in two ways. First, the customer may choose generic options for their drugs, thereby saving tremendously over brand-names. Aenta also has a large mail-order pharmacy section, and those who are willing to mail-order their drugs in three-month supplies pay substantially less than those with monthly refills.

Aetna also, unlike some health insurance companies, carries dental and vision policies. Because these policies tend to be low-return and high-maintenance, many smaller companies do not offer them. However, Aetna continues to carry these types of coverage because they draw in customers who prefer to have these options. While the dental and vision coverage varies among employers and provider offices, generally it will save you money over the cost of paying for such items yourself.

Aetna combines its life insurance section in the same company as the health insurance, which is also rather unique in the industry. A person shopping for Aetna insurance can literally purchase anything from disability policies to dental policies, and have them all administered by the same company. To some, this is a powerful selling point in Aetna’s favor.

Aetna is often administered through group payroll deduction plans, especially in larger companies. However, individuals are free to purchase policies on their own, as well. However, those purchasing independent policies will not likely receive the same premiums as group members, because group policy purchasing is often done in bulk for a lower price, and the company may subsidize some of the cost of the insurance as a benefit to its employees.

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