Caroline's Feed
Apr 24, 2014

Aetna says early months of Obamacare better than feared

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Aetna Inc (AET.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Thursday its first few months under Obamacare turned out better than expected as it added new members not only on the exchanges but in its traditional large corporate business.

Aetna’s shares surged 5.5 percent as the company allayed some investor concern that health costs were higher than what it and competitors had planned for. It also said it beat first-quarter profit expectations as bad weather helped keep down doctor visits and medical costs.

Apr 24, 2014

Aetna quarterly profit beats forecasts as new members surge

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Aetna Inc (AET.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Thursday reported a better-than-expected first quarter, helped by a surge in profits from its commercial business and by adding new customers.

New customers were sourced partly from employers and partly from insurance exchanges created under President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Apr 22, 2014

Novartis, Valeant bids herald new deal-making era for pharma

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – A series of agreed or proposed drug company deals may herald a new era of acquisitions not seen since last decade as pharmaceutical companies improve their best businesses and exit weaker ones.

Novartis (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) agreed to trade more than $20 billion worth of assets, boosting Novartis’ cancer-drug business and Glaxo’s vaccines business. Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX.TO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) made a $47 billion unsolicited offer for Allergan Inc (AGN.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the maker of Botox, to boost its skin care business. Reports that Pfizer Inc (PFE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) was rebuffed earlier this year in discussions to buy AstraZeneca Inc (AZN.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for more than $100 billion only fed anticipation that more mergers are ahead.

Apr 17, 2014

UnitedHealth: New hepatitis C drug costs far more than forecast

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the largest U.S. health insurer, said on Thursday it has spent more than $100 million to cover a pricey new hepatitis C drug from Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), a higher cost than it expected by “multiples,” sending shares in the sector lower.

UnitedHealth is the first insurer to put a number to what the industry may pay to cover patients using Gilead’s new Sovaldi treatment, whose $84,000 price tag has spurred a national outcry over the rising costs of specialty medicines. . UnitedHealth did not disclose what it had expected to spend on the hepatitis C drug.

Apr 11, 2014

Texas Medicaid holds off on proposed limits for Gilead hepatitis drug

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Texas is reconsidering whether to impose strict limits on Gilead Sciences’ $84,000 hepatitis C treatment for patients on the state’s Medicaid health plan for the poor, at the urging of outside advisers, a state official said on Friday.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees Medicaid, had proposed a policy to allow the drug, Sovaldi, to be used mainly for sicker patients, such as those whose hepatitis C had developed into advanced liver disease, according to state documents reviewed by Reuters.

Apr 8, 2014

U.S. insurers still expect cuts in 2015 Medicare payments

April 8 (Reuters) – U.S. health insurers said on Tuesday
they still expected cuts in government reimbursements for
privately managed Medicare health plans for the elderly next
year even after the Obama administration rolled back the
steepest reductions.

The government agency that oversees Medicare said late on
Monday that on average, reimbursements to insurers for private
Medicare plans would rise 0.4 percent, reversing what it said
was a proposed cut of 1.9 percent.

Apr 7, 2014

U.S. government rolls back proposed Medicare Advantage cut

By Caroline Humer and David Morgan

(Reuters) – The Obama administration on Monday rolled back some of the more controversial cuts proposed for privately managed Medicare health plans used by the elderly following pressure from insurance companies and lawmakers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said that on average, reimbursement for such Medicare Advantage plans in 2015 would rise 0.4 percent, reversing what is said was a 1.9 percent average reduction proposed in February.

Apr 2, 2014

Healthcare players see more changes coming to Obamacare

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some of the key players rolling out Obamacare to the American public say their work on the program is just beginning, as the real-world effect of the law throws up new questions and problems.

More than 7 million people signed up for new health coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law for 2014, the first year in which its main provisions took effect. Obama celebrated the enrollment milestone on Tuesday as a victory for the program which has faced relentless opposition from the Republican Party and major technical hurdles.

Apr 1, 2014

U.S. insurers fear backlash over new Obamacare rate increases

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the first Obamacare enrollment period comes to a close, U.S. insurers are already anticipating the need to raise prices for 2015 and fear that it will put them at the center of the political blame game over President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

The Obama administration was poised on Tuesday to declare victory over signing up more than 7 million people for this year, overcoming technology failures that stymied enrollment in the program’s early weeks and Republican efforts to discredit it in the eyes of consumers.

Apr 1, 2014

Cigna says signed up 75,000-100,000 for Obamacare

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Reuters) – Cigna Corp has
enrolled between 75,000 and 100,000 people in Obamacare health
plans during the first three months of enrollment, Chief
Executive Officer David Cordani said on Tuesday at the Reuters
Health Summit.

Of those, about two-thirds signed up through the public
exchanges created as part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s
healthcare reform law, often called Obamacare, Cordani said on
the day after the enrollment period for these plans ended. The
rest signed up directly with Cigna.