Aetna Inc said on Saturday it has notified California's insurance regulator that it plans to stop selling health policies to individual consumers in the state at the end of 2013.
The company will continue to offer health insurance to employers and Medicare beneficiaries in California, as well as dental and life-insurance products, Aetna spokeswoman Anjie Coplin told Reuters. But people with individual health coverage with Aetna will have to find alternative coverage by year's end.
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Aetna had informed California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones of its decision to exit the market, Coplin said, but it was still in the process of notifying members and brokers.
The move comes as California, the country's most populous state, prepares for the fall launch of a state health exchange authorized by President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The exchange establishes new standards for health insurance products sold to individuals in the state, whether or not they are offered through the exchange.
Coplin did not immediately respond to an e-mail or voicemail asking why Aetna had decided to exit the individual health insurance market in California.
Aetna says its decision will affect only 49,000 of its 1.5 million policyholders in the state.
(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; editing by Gunna Dickson)