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Aetna to reenter the Affordable Care Act market

The ACA business has improved and Aetna will sell individual coverage in 2022, CEO says.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

New CVS Health President and CEO Karen Lynch

After a three-year hiatus, Aetna is reentering the Affordable Care Act market.

Karen Lynch, the new president and CEO of CVS Health, said during an earnings call on Tuesday that Aetna will reenter the ACA business. The ACA business has improved, she said, and Aetna will rejoin the ACA marketplace, selling individual coverage in 2022. 

"After careful consideration we have decided to re-enter the individual public exchange market as of January 1, 2022," Lynch said. "As the ACA has evolved there is evidence of market stabilization and remedies to earlier structural issues. It is now time for us to participate in these markets. We will show that we can bring great value to those who seek coverage. You can expect to hear more about our exchange re-entry plans and future updates."

WHY THIS MATTERS

Aetna said in 2017 that it would leave the market in 2018.

Aetna joined other insurers in leaving or downsizing its footprint as premiums rose and insurers lost money.

The ACA market has grown since the exodus and shown strength in 2021, in lower premiums for consumers, steady enrollment numbers and insurers expanding their marketplace reach.

As COVID-19 has cost many their employer-based health insurance, the Biden Administration has opened a new enrollment period that started on February 15 and goes through May 15.

THE LARGER TREND

President Donald Trump and Congressional GOP members attempted to get rid of the Affordable Care Act that was passed into law by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

Trump's successor, President Biden, has promised to strengthen the market, even as the Supreme Court considers whether the ACA law remains valid without the individual mandate's tax penalty. The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision by June.

In 2018, Aetna became part of CVS Health in a $69 billion merger.

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com