Caroline's Feed
Jan 29, 2014

WellPoint says health exchange applicants hit expectations

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – U.S. health insurer WellPoint Inc said on Wednesday the applicants for the new Obamacare health plans are of the age and demographics it had expected, indicating that medical costs will not soar beyond the prices it charges.

WellPoint, which released lower fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, said that based on age, insurance plan selection, income levels, gender and available pharmacy data, it believes it has set the right premium rates for these new customers.

Jan 29, 2014

WellPoint fourth-quarter profit falls on rising medical use

Jan 29 (Reuters) – WellPoint, the second-largest U.S. health
insurer, on Wednesday reported a lower quarterly profit as
consumers increased their use of medical services ahead of the
cancellation of some insurance plans at the end of 2013.

The company also took a charge for the recently announced
sale of its contact lens business, 1-800 Contacts, to private
equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, which caused a sharp decline
in net profit.

Jan 16, 2014

UnitedHealth sees Obamacare and Medicare costs, then growth

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – UnitedHealth Group Inc said on Thursday implementing Obamacare and private Medicare funding cuts will eat into 2014 profit but the government-paid insurance business will drive growth as more people sign up.

UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. health insurer, reported fourth-quarter profit a beat higher than analyst expectations, but its shares and those of major competitors fell anyway as investors focused on costs.

Jan 10, 2014

U.S. to part with contractor CGI for Obamacare website

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – The U.S. government will part ways next month with contractor CGI Federal over the troubled Obamacare enrollment website, HealthCare.gov, which struggled with technical problems when it launched in October, the company said on Friday.

U.S.-listed shares of CGI Group, the parent of CGI Federal, were down 2.9 percent at $31.57 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange, after the Washington Post reported the news earlier in the day.

Jan 8, 2014

Insurers push Obamacare payment deadline to late January

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some top U.S. health insurers are giving consumers more time to pay their Obamacare premiums, extending the deadline to the end of January for benefits that begin retroactively from January 1.

The new extension adds to a series of deadline delays by government and the insurance industry to compensate for technical failures and errors plaguing the enrollment process under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

Jan 6, 2014

U.S. health spending rose 3.7 pct in 2012 as economy dragged

Jan 6 (Reuters) – U.S. healthcare spending rose 3.7 percent
in 2012 to $2.8 trillion, the fourth year in a row in this range
as the slow economic recovery tempered private insurance use,
drug prices fell and the government held back payment increases
for doctors, the Obama administration said on Monday.

Since 2009, increases in spending on healthcare have run
from 3.6 percent to 3.8 percent, below pre-recession rates which
have been falling since their peak in 2003, the report from the
U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.

Dec 18, 2013

Insurers wary of new Obamacare fix for January health plans

By Caroline Humer and Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – Insurance companies are struggling with a new request by the Obama administration to make sure people receive medical benefits under healthcare reform come January 1, even if they miss a sign-up deadline set for next Monday.

The government has sought to reassure consumers, already frustrated by technical problems that stalled access to its HealthCare.gov enrollment website in October and November, that those who need coverage starting on New Year’s Day will be able to sign up.

Dec 12, 2013

Aetna will not reinstate individual insurance plans: CEO

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Aetna Inc has decided not to reinstate or extend individual health insurance plans that are being canceled with the advent of the U.S. Affordable Care Act because the time frame is too short.

Aetna is the largest insurer yet to announce a decision on how it would proceed across the United States after President Barack Obama said last month that insurers could extend these health plans under a temporary transitional policy.

Dec 12, 2013

For some Obamacare shoppers, a brief grace period on premiums

NEW YORK, Dec 12 (Reuters) – As a deadline approaches for
people to sign up for medical insurance under President Barack
Obama’s healthcare law, some insurers and state-run online
marketplaces are giving shoppers an extra week to pay their
first premiums.

The shift to early January from the end of December provides
a short grace period for insurers and shoppers to work through
any errors in the new policies caused by technology problems
dogging enrollment since it opened on Oct. 1.

Dec 6, 2013

Health website transactions fail 10 percent of time: U.S. official

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – As millions of people shop online for new insurance plans under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, about 10 percent of applications to the main website are not being accurately transmitted, a government spokeswoman said on Friday.

The error rate has improved since HealthCare.gov’s disastrous debut on October 1, which created a political crisis for Obama as opponents and supporters of the law questioned whether the most sweeping social program since the 1960s was rushed well before it was ready. Last week, the White House wrapped up a five-week emergency effort to fix the most obvious of the website’s technical problems.