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Aetna Reports Lower Q4 Profits
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Health insurer Aetna says it saw its fourth quarter profits fall 15%, largely because of rising medical costs. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

The Hartford-based company reported net income of $166 million, or 38 cents a share, down from 42 cents a share in the same quarter of 2008.  Those numbers narrowly missed Wall Street’s expectations. Aetna said it was hit by higher claim expenses, in part because of swine flu, and partly because of a greater use of COBRA coverage by laid off workers. Aetna’s management has been vocal in the healthcare reform debate – CEO Ron Williams now says the way ahead is not clear.

For the full year of 2009, Aetna’s profits were down 8%.  It’s a trend that the insurer says will continue – it’s forecasting modestly lower profits in 2010. Williams says he continues to view 2010 as a rebuilding year for the company.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.