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Five Questions for Aetna CEO Ron Williams

Posted by: Michael Arndt on February 13, 2009

williams photo.jpgRon Williams, CEO of Aetna, is stopping by BusinessWeek for an interview on Feb. 19. So what do you have to ask the chief of a company with $31.6 billion in annual revenue—up 14% from 2007—and 17.7 million member/customers.

One reason for Aetna’s success is that it’s been a pioneer in bold and sometimes controversial areas such as consumer-driven plans, physician-specific pricing tied to quality indicators, and mining customer data to provide better care. But its future may be different, depending on changes in health-care policy in Washington. So c’mon with your questions. We’ll put five of them to Williams during his visit and post his answers in a video here asap. Remember to include your full name and hometown.

Reader Comments

Prakash Dogra

February 10, 2009 7:10 AM

The consumer are moving towards a self service channel - they want to have better control over their information and services that they pay for. Towards this end how do you see the future of Insurance industry and specifically how is Aetna taking lead in becoming a preferred provider?

Susan E John

February 10, 2009 7:41 AM

I have an Aetna individual health plan. At least I do right now. Last week I received a letter telling me that Aetna is pulling out of the individual market in Washington state. I have had this plan (originally the Virginia Mason Health plan bought out by Aetna)for over twenty years. I have faithfully paid my premiums every month for those twenty plus years. I am about to join the ranks of the uninsured. That monthly premium was sacred. It got paid no matter what because I knew that having health care coverage is one of the most important investments I make. Aetna has not offered individual plans in Washington for some time. Therefore, there is no fresh blood - no new subscribers to the risk pool. Obviously, under those conditions, those of us who have a grandfathered plan are going to get older, and perhaps need our health care more than we did when we were younger. I started paying into this plan when I was in my early twenties. So now, perhaps, Aetna has decided that it is no longer making enough money from those few Aetna individual plan members. I believe when I looked up the market share, Aetna was less than 1% here in Washington state. I believe Aetna has a moral and ethical obligation to their members in Washington. To be part of the solution to the travesty that is American health care, rather than a huge part of the problem. Aetna can issue all sorts of press releases about health care reform - calling for increased purchasing of individual plans among others. But where the rubber meets the road Aetna is talking, not walking the walk. Aetna has left me high and dry at the age of 49. In this economy, in these times of fear and uncertainty, with my investments being decimated by companies that do not care about anything other than massive profits, Aetna has chosen to pull my health care as well. It is cruel, it is unnecessary, and it is wrong. Be part of the solution, not create another problem, and do the right thing. Allow me to continue to pay my premiums and continue my coverage.

Katie Adams

February 10, 2009 11:45 AM

What is Aetna doing to shift the focus from providing employers and subscribers with information on costs instead of highlighting providers' clinical outcomes and care results?

Bob Farmer

February 18, 2009 9:22 AM

As America suffers, what is Aetna's strategy for maintaining growth -- and customers?


February 18, 2009 6:24 PM

What plans does Aetna have to use the Internet and mobile devices as insurance sales platforms?

Terry Stritcher

February 18, 2009 8:06 PM

What are you doing to help the 46 million Americans who dont have healthcare?

Brenda Kindy

February 20, 2009 9:43 AM

How can the President and CEO of an insurance company support the Socialist policies of the Obama administration? I can only assume that Ron Williams is planning ahead for when his company is out of the private sector and taken over by the government or dissolved altogether. What promises has Obama given him to get him to support his Socialist policies that will destroy free enterprise and the best healthcare system in the world. How can he possibly believe that the government can deliver health insurance better than the private sector. Just look at Medicare and Medicaid. If providers only received as reimbursement the level they receive from the government, they would flee the healthcare business. Great job, guys.

Helen Walters, Editor, Innovation & Design

February 23, 2009 12:43 PM

Hi all, Thanks so much for your questions. Ron Williams has now left the building. We posted the interview here:
Thanks again,


June 2, 2009 2:19 PM

Aetna should be cutting costs. So why does Ron Williams earn 20 MILLION a year?????????


June 2, 2009 2:24 PM

Forgot to add this to my post; copied from

Ron Williams - Aetna

Total Compensation: $24,300,112

Details: Williams earned $24,300,112 in total compensation for 2008, with more than half of that ($13,537,365) coming from option awards. He also received an additional $6,456,630 in stock awards to go along with his base salary of $1,091,764.

Personal use of a corporate aircraft and vehicle, as well as financial planning and 401(k) company matches added up to $101,487 for Williams


July 4, 2009 8:24 PM

Everything Ron Williams owns, everything, is ill-gotten goods, paid for with the lives of the 67 Americans that die every day because health care is denied.

How can he live with himself?

Why do we allow him to live among us?

He is the worst kind of criminal. He happily seeks premiums from people while they are well and good, biding his time until they are sick or injured and unable to advocate from themselves. Then, his policy is to deny, deny, deny until death.

His lifestyle and earnings are obscene.

Were Dante alive, he would add a special, deeper level of hell just for criminals like Williams.


July 11, 2009 2:48 AM

WELL SAID deniedsurgery!


It's people like Ron Williams that are the greatest THREAT to America!

There are NO external threats that can compare to the internal threats of corruption and greed.

Enlightened one

August 5, 2009 11:27 PM

It seems the moral majority is becoming more a blame horde than an educated mass. People speaking in reference to one person as though that person was the leader of an Evil Uprising. You should get your facts straight and look into the companies that are actually causing you the woes. Seriously, if you blamers are a fair sampling of the masses, no wonder the economy is in such a poor state.

David Lasseter

August 7, 2009 7:21 PM

My partner has AETNA and is currently being evaluated for a liver transplant. Every time I speak to a customer representative, I am given a different story. Claims have not been paid and as I have been told by supervisors Bev and Monique, "our office is backlogged". Is AETNA going to be backlogged in giving authorization for the transplant and allow my partner to die?

Mark H

August 17, 2009 5:50 PM

Key lessons I learned a couple of years ago.

- Insurance companies are our only defense in controlling costs. Otherwise, doctors will continue to push inflation of medical costs.

- The gov't denies over 60% of social security disability claims and averages 2 years to approve. Private insurance carriers on the contrary average 82% approvals within 72 hours.

- Average industry margin of profit in insurance is 5.2%. An average margin of profit in the Fortune 500 is 14.8%. Microsoft is nearly 30%.

- 22% of the uninsured already qualify for gov't programs and simply not enrolled.

- The insurance denial does not cause deaths. It is the doctor that refuses medically access to such services over payment. (94% of insurance denials are due to lack of information provided by doctors)

Glen Joseph

September 8, 2009 3:59 PM

Aetna is the biggest scam company out there,how the u.s government lets this company operate makes you wonder who's campaign they contribute to.This can be the only way this company is allowed to operate!!!!!!!!!!!!!


November 25, 2009 3:04 PM

I'd put this gentleman and scholar right up there with Clarence Thomas and Robert Mugabe

Honest person

December 5, 2009 5:05 PM

AETNA is simply disgusting. The way patients like me are treated so poorly, denied coverage, have their premiums raised for ridiculous reasons (anything minor can be a "pre-existing condition", a reason to increase one's premium by 25%), given conflicting information as to what is/isn't covered----this is criminal, and Ron Williams is at the helm. Enlightened One, you have some gall to call us commentors "the masses"; I have two Ivy League degrees, and have contributed so much to this country and economy, only to be screwed over by companies like AETNA.


December 16, 2009 11:41 AM

"Mining customer data to provide better health care"??? Say what? Customer data is mined for the sole purpose of denying coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Rot in hell you low life pariahs.

William B. Friedman

January 11, 2010 5:19 PM

Your Medicare HMO customer service confirmed my dentist's statement that insurance companies don't cover dental implants despite their being better and CHEaPER than the alternatives. She didn't know why and couldn't tell me where I coukd find out! Somebody in your Co. must know; if not you, you should know who does. If (as is very likely) my question is not chosen, can you tell me how to contact him?

Carolyn Spector Gillis

March 5, 2010 10:07 AM

THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, anyone with a drop of perspective can see.
We need to impose this model on the Aetna's by giving the CEO a 6 month probation to turn this into a Swiss style Private but highly regulated model...or be terminated.

People are DYING while these A holes are fiddling.

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