Aetna to exit California individual market by 2014

Aetna is leaving the California individual insurance market at the end of the year, the insurer announced Saturday.

Aetna's departure could raise some eyebrows after California has been at the center of debates regarding the reform law's success. Even President Barack Obama highlighted California's reform-related achievements in a speech, claiming it as evidence that the health overhaul increases competition and lowers prices.

Although it will still offer coverage for employers and Medicare beneficiaries as well as dental plans throughout California, Aetna will be notifying its individual members that they will have to find new coverage for 2014, Reuters reported. It already told California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones of the decision.

"After reviewing our portfolio of individual health insurance plans in California, we have determined that we are no longer able to meet the needs of our customers, while remaining competitive in the individual health insurance market," Aetna said, according to LifeHealthPro.

The decision affects about 49,000 of Aetna's 1.5 million members in California. In years past, Aetna was the fourth largest insurer in California's consumer market, with about 5.2 percent of individual plans sold in 2011, but still only produced four percent of its revenue that year, reported the Wall Street Journal.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- see the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the LifeHealthPro article