This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Aetna Shows the Way

Years ago, with heavyweights like UnitedHealth (UNH) still on the sidelines, Aetna (AET) made an unsung but prescient move.

The Hartford, Conn., insurer started promoting consumer-driven health care plans. The offerings typically balance high deductibles with low monthly payments, in a bid to appeal to some of America's millions of uninsured workers.

It wasn't easy. Ronald Williams, now the company's CEO, felt like he was selling televisions before their invention.

"We didn't have the language to describe it," he recalls. "So the language got in the way of the solution."

Undaunted, Aetna set out to become more fluent. By 2001 -- Williams' first year at the company -- Aetna had jumped into the market. The company stood out as the only national health insurer in a group of scrappy upstarts. Other major insurers avoided the scene, only later venturing in by snatching up some early CDHP pioneers down the road.

"I remember when they laughed when we talked about consumerism," Williams says. "I'm so thrilled that our competitors today have embraced it. ... It's gratifying."

These days, UnitedHealth likes to present itself as a leader of the consumerism movement. Thanks to acquisitions, the company ranks as the largest player in the game. Moreover, the company has made a name for itself as a visionary force in the health care arena as a whole.

1 of 5

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,279.74 +13.75 0.08%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
NASDAQ 4,579.7890 -13.6380 -0.30%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs