Aetna History: Aetna at the Forefront

Aetna Firsts | Home Office

Think that big corporations are slow to change? Not Aetna. The company has continually been at the forefront of the insurance industry, suggesting innovations to better serve customers and guide constructive advancements. Today, Aetna has transformed itself into a leading health and group benefits company committed to providing value-added innovations that serve customers’ needs.

Keeping in mind that Aetna was, for much of its past, a multiline company offering a wide range of life insurance, financial, casualty and health products, what follows are some of Aetna’s pioneering efforts that have occurred throughout its 157 years.

Industry firsts

1912 — Aetna writes the nation's first comprehensive coverage for autos, combining several coverages into one contract.

1922 — Aetna creates the first insurer-owned rehabilitation clinic for disabled workers, located in Syracuse, N.Y.

1932 — Aetna implements the first resident training school for casualty insurance agents in the country.

1941 — Aetna opens the first 16mm sound studio in New England right in the middle of its home office at 151 Farmington Avenue in Hartford, Conn.

1941 — Aetna originates group paid-up coverage.

1944 — Aetna becomes the first insurer to advertise on television.

1951 — Aetna is the first insurer to provide catastrophic health insurance protection.

1953 — Aetna develops the first automobile simulator (the “Drivotrainer”) to teach high school students to drive.

1963 — Aetna writes the first individual life insurance policies for the seven Mercury astronauts.

1966 — Aetna pays the first Medicare claim in the country; the payment was made to Hartford Hospital.

1987 — Aetna sells the industry’s first employer group Long Term Care (LTC) plan.

2001 — With the launch of Aetna HealthFund, Aetna becomes the first national, full-service health insurer to introduce a consumer-directed health product.

2003 — Aetna is the first national, full-service health insurer to announce a Health Savings Account (HSA) offering.

Health care quality firsts

Diabetes Prevention — In 1997, Aetna was the first national health benefits company to support the new diabetes screening guidelines endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Mammography Screening — In 1997, Aetna was the first national health benefits company to follow the new mammogram screening guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.

Women’s Health — In 1997, Aetna was the first national health benefits company to fund a program to raise awareness among women about the risks of heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death of women over the age of 25.

External Review — In 1999, Aetna was the first national health benefits company to voluntarily provide for external review of coverage decisions by neutral, independent physician reviewers.

Genetics Testing — In 2002, Aetna was the first national health benefits company to propose recommendations of national guidelines for access to genetic testing.