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A Second Insurer, Aetna, Drops Insurance Rates on the DC Health Link - Another Sign Competition and Transparency Are Already Cutting Insurance Costs

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
The big health insurer Aetna lowered the rates it is proposing to charge HMO customers through the District’s new health-insurance exchange, the DC Health Link, by more than 5 percent. 
The company dropped its rates after insurers in the District earlier this month disclosed their proposed rates publicly for the first time. 
UnitedHealthcare, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, the largest single health insurer in the U.S. with 70 million people insured, has already cut the rates it had first proposed by more than 10 percent. 
Because prices on the DC Health Link will be transparent and easy to compare when it opens Oct. 1, they will be far more competitive for the individuals and small businesses who will buy insurance through the exchange. 
For instance, for a 40-year-old who works for a small business, Aetna today proposed charging an average $385 a month for an HMO plan with the second-best level of coverage in terms of keeping out-of-pocket costs down. That fell from $407. (For people below certain income levels, there will be subsidies under the federal Affordable Care Act.) 
“I am pleased to see that Aetna took advantage of this opportunity to revise their rates and make health insurance more affordable for District small businesses,” said William P. White, commissioner of the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, which must approve the rates. “UnitedHealthcare and Aetna’s decision to lower rates for the DC Health Link is a clear example of how competition and transparency will help hold rates down.” 
Along with the two other insurers in the exchange, CareFirst and Kaiser Permanente, the four companies submitted almost 300 policies to be offered on the exchange. To see all of the proposed rates, including the new Aetna rates, go to disb.dc.gov/hbxplans  
The 160-year-old Aetna is one of the nation’s largest health insurers. It is based in Hartford, Ct.