Lynch: Aetna files to reenter ACA exchanges in 8 states

Aetna has filed to enter the Affordable Care Act's exchanges in eight states beginning in January 2022, CVS CEO Karen Lynch told investors Wednesday.

These states include Arizona, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Nevada, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina.

Lynch said the exchange plans will focus on harnessing the capabilities of both CVS and Aetna to enhance care. The healthcare giant offered a peek at what that might look like in its Aetna Connected Plan with CVS Health, which was recently expanded into new markets.

Members in that plan have access to Aetna's HMO network and get perks for using CVS Health services, such as 20% off of CVS-branded health and wellness items.

RELATED: Aetna bringing CVS-centric plan to new markets with eye on further expansion

"With Aetna's strong networks and CVS ' significant local presence, we believe we are creating a compelling new offering that combines health insurance, pharmacy, our retail presence, and behavioral health services," Lynch said on the company's earnings call.

Lynch said on the company's first-quarter earnings call that Aetna intended to reenter the ACA exchanges for the 2022 plan year. The insurer fully exited the exchanges in 2018 following significant losses, which hit many payers on the marketplaces in their infancy.

Improved performance of the marketplaces has lured a number of insurers back to them, or encouraged them to expand their offerings.

In addition, CVS announced that it will raise the minimum wage for its employees to $15 across the company, beginning in July 2022.

"Increasing our minimum wage for hourly employees will help attract and retain the talent needed for our customer-centric business approach," Lynch said on the call. "Just as critical, it aligns with our values and our purpose, and builds on a history of our investment in our people."

CVS Health's profits took a dip in the second quarter of 2021, where the healthcare giant posted $2.8 billion in earnings.

In the prior-year quarter, CVS Health brought in $3 billion in profit, according to its earnings report (PDF) released Wednesday. The results beat the Street, according to Zacks Investment Research.

While profits are down slightly compared to the second quarter of 2020, the company is still on par for the first half of the year, bringing in $5 billion in profit. It also reported $5 billion in profit for the first half of 2020.

Major health insurers have across the board seen their earnings decline year over year this quarter, as second-quarter 2020 profits soared amid lower care utilization due to COVID-19.

RELATED: Insurers saw sky-high profits in Q2. Now, Congress wants to take a look at their finances

CVS also reported $72.6 billion in revenue for the quarter, up from $65.3 billion in the second quarter of 2020. This also surpassed Wall Street's expectations, according to Zacks. 

Revenues for the first half of the year are also up, according to the release, reaching $141.7 billion. By comparison, CVS brought in $132.1 billion in revenue for the first half of 2020.

“We delivered another quarter of strong results and once again raised our outlook for the year,” said Lynch in a statement. “This quarter was highlighted by broad sales and earnings outperformance, as well as sequential operating margin improvement."

"We continue to play a critical role in helping America prevail against the pandemic while demonstrating the effectiveness of our unique business model, which is focused on meeting customer needs through innovations that make health care more local, affordable and connected," Lynch said.

The healthcare giant said it administered more than 6 million COVID-19 tests and 17 million vaccines for the virus in the second quarter.

As a result of its performance, CVS Health raised its full-year guidance to between $6.35 and $6.45 in earnings per share.