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Aetna plans to remain in Obamacare markets, may expand

A man walks out of the Univista Insurance company office after shopping for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act, on December 15, 2015, in Miami.
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A man walks out of the Univista Insurance company office after shopping for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act, on December 15, 2015, in Miami.

Health Insurer Aetna on Wednesday said it plans to continue its Obamacare health insurance business next year in the 15 states where it now participates, and may expand to a few additional states.

"We have submitted rates in all 15 states where we are participating and have no plans at this point to withdraw from any of them," said company spokesman Walt Cherniak. But he noted that a final determination would hinge on binding agreements being signed with the states in September.

Aetna sells the individual coverage on exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. By also filing proposed rates in several other states, Aetna said it had preserved its options to participate in them as well next year. It declined to identify the potential new markets.

The 15 states where it currently participates are Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Aetna earlier this year said its Obamacare business had operating losses of about 3 to 4 percent in 2015, with improvements seen in the latter part of the year. It is hoping the business will have a break-even performance in 2016.

Rival insurers UnitedHealth and Anthem have missed profit expectations because of losses in their own individual Obamacare businesses.

UnitedHealth has said it will exit most of its Obamacare exchanges next year.