HARTFORD, Conn., September 19, 2001 — Aetna Inc. (NYSE: ΑET) today introduced Aetna HealthFund, an innovative health product that gives employers additional flexibility in customized product design and gives consumers greater choice and control in directing the health benefits provided by their employers.
Aetna HealthFund combines a preferred provider (PPO) plan with a unique, employer-funded health savings account that can be rolled over at the end of the year with any remaining funds going toward covered services in subsequent years. This product will also include Aetna Navigator, a powerful and comprehensive online resource that provides additional value by enabling members to manage their health and track health expenditures on a personalized, secure website, as well as obtain pertinent information about health issues.
"Aetna HealthFund is a truly innovative product that provides both employers and members greater flexibility at a time when both are looking for an expanded range of health benefit options based on choice and value," said Ronald A. Williams, Aetna's chief of health operations.
"We believe this new product may be of particular interest to employers who are looking for new ways to give employees more flexibility to choose a plan that meets their own unique health care needs. At the same time, employers will enjoy the benefit of integrated plan administration provided by one of the nation's leading health care companies. Aetna HealthFund is the first plan of its type to be offered by a national, full-service health benefits company.
"Aetna HealthFund offers consumers the security of an employer-funded health savings account for routine care alongside a PPO plan for higher-cost health services, at an affordable premium. It can be an attractive option when offered alongside other more traditional health plans."
Aetna HealthFund is offered on a self-funded basis and can be customized to suit the specific needs of the employer. Annual PPO deductibles are expected to range from $1,500 to $3,000, and the employer-funded health savings account maximums are expected to range from $500 to $1,000 or higher. PPO plans provide members with tremendous flexibility to see the doctor of their choice, as members have the option of seeking care from physicians in or out of the network.
Employers have the option to provide first dollar coverage for preventive services, such as annual physicals, mammograms and well childcare, not subject to the annual deductible or deducted from the savings account.
Employers also may choose to offer a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), which the employee can fund with pre-tax dollars, in addition to the employer-funded health savings account. FSAs are often used to cover services excluded from traditional coverage, such as out-of-pocket costs, deductibles and coinsurance.
Unlike the employer-funded health savings account, funds remaining in FSAs at year's end cannot be rolled over, in accordance with IRS regulations.
The first employer to select Aetna HealthFund as an option for its employees is Aetna itself. "We believe Aetna HealthFund will give Aetna employees an attractive alternative to the other Aetna HMO, POS and PPO plans they can select currently," said Elease Wright, senior vice president of human resources for Aetna.
Aetna HealthFund is the first product introduction resulting from Aetna's new strategic focus on customer segments. "This product will evolve as we work with our national account customers and brokers on health benefit designs that maximize value," said Russ Fisher, Aetna's head of national accounts. "Aetna HealthFund builds off of the company's unique resources, including one of the largest networks of physicians, hospitals and health professionals; extensive experience in claims payment and administration of innovative health benefits, and powerful online resources and self-service tools."
"Aetna has a history of working closely with our customers to evaluate next generation products and determine what makes the most sense for them," said Tim Brown, Aetna's head of key and select accounts. "We will be working with a number of employers in the middle market segment, specifically those with 300 to 3,000 employees, to help them evaluate consumer-directed product offerings which are just now coming to market and offer guidance on matching plan design to individual employer needs."
"The consultant community is expecting significant interest in consumer-directed products in 2002, as employers look for innovative health plan options that offer them greater predictability in their health care expenditures," said Kenneth
Sperling, Hewitt Associates. "Larger employers are evaluating health plan options that shift some of the decision making on health benefits to employees, which gives consumers more control over their health care decisions, and a better understanding of the value of their health coverage."
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