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Insurers Help in Reducing Medical Costs: Aetna CEO

Aetnacontinues to raise premiums to cover rising medical costs, but company CEO Ronald Williams said on CNBC Wednesday that Aetna, as well as other insurers, are helping to reduce those underlying costs by negotiating with hospitals.

"If you take a look at the underlying rate of increase in medical costs, it would be four to five percentage points higher if the health plan industry wasn’t actively engaged in controlling the rate of increase in costs," said Williams.

Earlier Wednesday Aetna boosted its earnings forecastfor 2010 to a range of $3.05 to $3.15 per share — up from $2.75 to $2.85 per share — as it reported a 42 percent jump in second-quarter net income.

The insurer also struck a 12-year deal with CVS Caremarkto manage some of its pharmacy benefits. That CVS agreement is part of Aetna's efforts to make health care more affordable, Williams said on CNBC.

Health-care reform has yet to effect the insurer, since currently uninsured individuals won't come on the insurance rolls until 2014. In the meantime, Aetna is continuing to lose members as its companies are holding off adding new employees, Williams said.

"We actually continue to see attrition in terms of the number of people insured by the companies that we cover," Williams said.