Caroline's Feed
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.

Mar 27, 2014

Faulty state Obamacare exchanges weigh joining

March 27 (Reuters) – A few U.S. states whose newly created
Obamacare insurance exchanges were stalled by technology
failures may join the federal government’s
marketplace for next year, while only two states that relied on
the administration plan to go it alone.

Exchange officials in Oregon, Maryland and Massachusetts are
weighing whether to enlist new private technology contractors or
to turn to the federal government after faulty exchanges slowed
enrollment in their states to the lowest rates in the country.

Mar 21, 2014

Insurers see double-digit Obamacare price rises in many states next year

By David Morgan and Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – U.S. consumers eligible for Obamacare health plans could see double-digit price hikes next year in states that fail to draw large numbers of enrollees for 2014, including some states that have been hostile to the healthcare law, according to insurance industry officials and analysts.

The early estimates come as insurance companies set out to design plans they intend to sell in 2015 through the state-based health insurance marketplaces that are a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement that is widely referred to as Obamacare.

Mar 21, 2014

Health insurer WellPoint raises full-year earnings forecast

March 21 (Reuters) – WellPoint Inc, the United
States’ second largest insurer, on Friday raised its 2014
earnings forecast closer to analysts’ expectations and said it
expected to add 1 million to 1.3 million members by the end of
the year.

WellPoint, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14
states, said it now expects net income of more than $8.20 per
share, up from more than $8.00.

Mar 11, 2014

Insurers wary of Obamacare unknowns as they plan for 2015

NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) – U.S. health insurers are
struggling to set prices for their Obamacare plans in 2015 and
decide which regions to return to before the deadlines for
submitting those plans to regulators.

Some insurers already expect to lose money this year
following the rocky launch of President Barack Obama’s
Affordable Care Act, which aims to provide coverage to millions
of uninsured Americans with the help of government subsidies.
The rollout was marred by technical errors that held up early
enrollment, last-minute regulatory changes and steady political
opposition from Republicans.

Mar 4, 2014

Insurers, Medicaid fear multibillion-dollar hepatitis C drug tab

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – U.S. health insurers are seeking help from state health officials to foot the bill for a new generation of hepatitis C treatments that could cost the nation $200 billion or more in the next five years.

Several insurers, including Molina Healthcare, which administer health plans for California’s Medicaid program for the poor are asking states to step in and pay for Gilead Sciences Inc’s Sovaldi, a drug that costs $84,000 per patient. The wrangling has reopened a national debate on how much the United States can afford to spend on the newest, costliest medications.

Feb 24, 2014

U.S. insurers say proposed Medicare cuts less than feared

Feb 24 (Reuters) – U.S. health insurers including Humana Inc
said on Monday that the government’s proposed cuts to
privately run Medicare programs appear to represent a funding
decline of around 4 percent, less than the possible cuts of 7
percent or deeper that analysts had been expecting.

Shares of most insurers rose on Monday, with Humana leading
the pack, up 9.2 percent at $112.29 on the New York Stock
Exchange in early afternoon. Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc
were up 2.8 percent at $75.91 and Aetna Inc was
up 2.6 percent at $72.24.

Feb 24, 2014

Pfizer’s Prevnar prevents pneumonia in elderly – study

By Ransdell Pierson and Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Pfizer Inc said on Monday that Prevnar 13, its blockbuster vaccine against childhood infections, prevented pneumonia outside of hospitals in people age 65 and older, in one of the largest drug trials ever conducted.

The 85,000-patient study, called CAPiTA, also showed that Prevnar 13 prevented invasive pneumococcal disease, meaning infections of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria in the bloodstream and other normally sterile sites in the body.

Feb 22, 2014

U.S. government seeks to cut Medicare payments to insurers

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – The U.S. government on Friday proposed a cut in payments to private health insurers for 2015 Medicare Advantage plans, a move Republican lawmakers said would hurt benefits for the elderly and disabled.

The proposal, released in a document by a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, appeared to cut payments by more than the 6 to 7 percent the insurance industry had expected, one Wall Street analyst said.