20 things to know about Aetna

From its 2018 acquisition by CVS Health to its future in virtual and integrated care, here are 20 things to know about Aetna. 

Company Basics

1. Aetna was founded under the leadership of its first president, Eliphalet Bulkeley, in 1853 and has its roots as an annuity fund to sell life insurance. It was named after one of the most active volcanoes in Europe at the time. 

2. The company has ties to many facets of American history — insuring the atomic Manhattan Project, encouraging bond sales during both world wars and providing group coverage to the United Nations. Around 1985, Aetna was the largest insurer in the country, and the payer began to seriously develop its HMOs, PPOs and other products. 

3. Aetna is currently under the leadership of Karen Lynch, who was the first woman to serve as the company's president in its 160-year history when she took over in 2015. Ms. Lynch is now the president and CEO of CVS Health, which owns Aetna.

4. In 2018, CVS Health, under the leadership of President and CEO Larry Merlo, closed a $70 billion acquisition of Aetna. The payer maintained its leadership and structure, operating as a stand-alone unit. 

5. Today, Aetna insures about 39 million people total through medical, pharmacy, dental, Medicare, Medicaid, behavioral health and management coverage. It provides medical coverage to 23.7 million people. 

6. Aetna directly owns five subsidiaries. However, since its acquisition by CVS Health, the payer taps CVS services, like its pharmacy benefits manager, Caremark. 

Financial Reports

7. CVS Health's healthcare benefits segment, which includes Aetna, reported $20.5 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2021 — up $1.8 billion, or 9.5 percent, year-over-year. 

8. CVS Health anticipates upwards of $309 billion in revenue across its businesses. 


9. On the horizon, Ms. Lynch said CVS Health is focusing further integration between Aetna and its other healthcare offerings. One example may be encouraging Aetna members to use CVS MinuteClinics over competitors. 

10. As payers quickly adopted virtual-first health plans throughout 2021, Aetna led the pack. The payer was the first to launch a national virtual-first plan with virtual primary care, mental health counseling, dermatology and more. 

11. Aetna is also reentering the ACA marketplace in 2022 after leaving the space four years ago, according to Forbes. It will sell individual coverage as Ms. Lynch cited stronger market conditions. 


12. ActiveHealth Management is Aetna's well-being and medical management solutions provider, according to its website. The provider serves more than 20 million people and employs more than 500 clinicians and staff. 

13. The payer acquired bswift, a health IT and analytics company, in 2014. The subsidiary offers administrative services — including human resource and benefits management — and data analysis. 

14. Cofinity, founded under Aetna in 2007, offers administrative services to more than 200 health plans and insurers. 

15. Meritain Health offers self-funded employers with benefits support as a third party administrator. The company taps in-house pharmacy solutions and Aetna's national networks for its clients. 

16. PayFlex, acquired by Aetna in 2011, offers a variety of savings accounts and benefits at both the individual and employer level. 

Rankings and Ratings

17. CVS Health is currently ranked No. 4 on Fortune's U.S. 500 list and No. 7 on its international 500 list. 

18. Ms. Lynch topped Fortune's 2021's 50 most powerful women list, beating out Gail Boudreaux, Anthem CEO and president. 

19. The company also ranked No. 26 on DiversityInc's 2021 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.

20. CVS Health made both the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indices. The company has been recognized on the North American index for the past nine years.

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