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Aetna will not reinstate individual insurance plans -CEO

Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 | 11:08 AM ET

Dec 12 (Reuters) - Aetna Inc's CEO said on Thursday that the time frame is too short for the U.S. health insurer to go through the regulatory processes it needs to reinstate or extend canceled health plans and that it will not be doing so.

CEO Mark Bertolini made the comments at an investor meeting where he gave an update on how the insurer is affected by the U.S. Affordable Care Act.

Last month, President Barack Obama said that insurers could extend these health plans under a temporary transitional policy that allowed canceled plans to be reinstated and extended into 2015 whether they complied with the ACA or not.

Obama made the policy change after hundreds of thousands of individuals received notices that their plans were being canceled. The cancellations became a political issue because Obama had promised Americans that if they liked their plan, they could keep it.

Aetna said, however, that it has offered early renewals on plans, which allow consumers to keep their coverage for up to a year longer and into late 2014.

"We talked to the insurance commissioners and the insurance commissioners have agreed with us. If we were to go to all those states, refile all those plans, refile all those rates and do it in time for Dec. 23, we would have paid attention to nothing else," Bertolini said.

Consumers must decide whether to buy plans on the exchanges by Dec. 23 for coverage to start on Jan. 1, 2014.

Aetna is offering plans in 16 states, which means it covers about 30 percent of the exchange marketplace. The exchanges, created under the Affordable Care Act, opened on Oct. 1 to sell plans for 2014. Technology problems have hobbled the ability of consumers to sign up and highlighted the cancellation issue.

Aetna said it expects to gain customers in only about 15 percent of the marketplaces where it is priced the most competitively.

Bertolini said he expects the public exchanges, which are under attack by Republicans, to survive the technology issues.

"By 2015, if we get it fixed right, it'll be a new start," he said.

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