Aetna Abandons ‘All Products Policy’ for Doctors
Hoping to improve its relationship with physicians, Aetna Inc., the nation's largest health insurer, dropped its "all products policy" that required doctors to serve patients in all Aetna plans, the Wall Street Journal reports. The "all-or-nothing" policy forced doctors to treat patients and accept Aetna fee payments regardless of whether the doctors were part of the company's HMOs or PPOs. Aetna did not want patients to have to switch doctors when their companies changed from an Aetna HMO product to an Aetna PPO product. But the policy "angered" many physicians. "It was our way or the highway," Aetna President and COO John Rowe said (Wall Street Journal, 12/20). He added, "It was an old-style policy. We weren't nimble enough to change it as we should have" (Levick, Hartford Courant, 12/20). Physicians will now have the option of selecting their "participation types" when they "renew their contracts over the next year," an Aetna spokesperson said (Wall Street Journal, 12/20). With Aetna already "struggling to improve profit margins," some analysts worry that the move will "boost" Aetna's costs and hamper earnings. According to Rowe, however, the policy shift will not "significantly increase" Aetna's medical costs but will "forge a better partnership" with providers (Hartford Courant, 12/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.