Caroline's Feed
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.

Feb 21, 2014

U.S. government proposes cut to insurer payments for Medicare

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.

Feb 20, 2014

U.S. health insurers brace for new steep Medicare cuts

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government is expected to announce this week the proposed payment rates for insurer-run Medicare plans in 2015, but industry officials say the anticipated cuts will mean higher co-pays and fewer benefits for seniors.

Of the more than 50 million older Americans who receive coverage through Medicare, about 15 million are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans offered by companies such as UnitedHealth Group Inc, Humana Inc and Aetna Inc. The rest use Medicare fee-for-service programs, in which doctors are reimbursed by the government for patient visits and procedures.

Feb 18, 2014

Actavis to buy Forest for $25 billion; windfall for investor Icahn

By Caroline Humer and Esha Dey

(Reuters) – Generic drugmaker Actavis Plc (ACT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Tuesday it would buy Forest Laboratories Inc (FRX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for about $25 billion in cash and stock, expanding its portfolio of specialty pharmaceuticals for neurological and other disorders.

The deal delivers a major payday to activist investor Carl Icahn, the second-largest shareholder at Forest Labs, who waged two proxy battles and threatened a third to change its leadership and strategy.

Feb 7, 2014

Cigna says private Medicare costs have risen; shares fall

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Cigna Corp (CI.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Friday said costs in its private Medicare business were higher than expected in the fourth quarter and might continue on that path in 2014, resulting in a disappointing outlook and pushing its shares down nearly 9 percent.

The higher costs also caused the company to miss analysts’ fourth-quarter earnings estimates.