(Reuters) - Aetna Inc, the No. 3 U.S. health insurer, said on Thursday it has decided not to sell insurance on New York's individual health insurance exchange, part of the country's healthcare reform.
New York is the fifth state where Aetna has pulled its application to sell the plans that go on sale on October 1 and into effect on January 1, 2014. It has also reversed course in Maryland, Ohio, Georgia, and Connecticut, where it is based.
Aetna spokesman Cynthia Michener said it made the move after assessing its business strategy, following the acquisition of smaller insurer Coventry Healthcare in May. Coventry also filed applications to sell plans in more than 10 states.
"Our goal for 2014 is to participate in a limited number of state exchanges where we can be competitive and add the most value to the market," she said in an emailed statement.
She said the company will continue to serve small business and large business customers in New York and will offer individual products outside of the exchanges.
New York's market for individuals is currently only about 17,000 people, but the exchange is expected to bring in 1 million people during the first three years. The exchange announced insurance participants on August 20. Aetna was not on the list.
(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)