Racist Business: Aetna Inc.

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Information. Aetna, Inc., is one of the nation’s largest health insurers and it is owned and operated by racist supects. 

Offending Merchant: Bayer allegedly upheld, supported or perpetrated the system of racism by participating in the slave trade. Aetna, Inc., acknowledged selling policies in the 1850s that reimbursed slave owners for financial losses when their slaves died. [MORE] and [MORE]

"Aetna has long acknowledged that for several years shortly after its founding in 1853 that the company may have insured the lives of slaves," said Aetna spokesman Fred Laberge. "We express our deep regret over any participation at all in this deplorable practice."

Aetna’s public apology was prompted by an inquiry from activist Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, who contacted the Hartford-based company to seek an apology and reparations.

In 2002, Farmer-Paellmann brought suit against Aetna and two other companies in federal court asking for reparations for the descendants of slaves. The lawsuit said Aetna, CSX and Fleet were "unjustly enriched" by "a system that enslaved, tortured, starved and exploited human beings. " It argued that African-Americans are still suffering the effects of 2½ centuries of enslavement followed by more than a century of institutionalized racism. The complaint blamed slavery for present-day disparities between blacks and whites in income, education, literacy, health, life expectancy and crime.

In 2006, Farmer-Paellmann announced a nationwide boycott of Aetna over the issue of reparations for its policies covering slaves. 

Aetna, which noted that the slave policies were legal before slavery was abolished, said it plans to make no reparations. "We have concluded that no further actions are required at this time," Laberge said. Aetna said its records show the company wrote no more than a dozen such policies to slave owners. The company said it previously acknowledged having written slave policies in a report prepared in 1956. [MORE]