Caroline's Feed
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.

Feb 6, 2014

Aetna CEO says expects to lose money on Obamacare exchanges

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Aetna Inc (AET.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the third-largest U.S. health insurer, said on Thursday it expects to lose money on the Obamacare exchanges even as demand for these insurance plans has picked up over the past few weeks.

President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, often called Obamacare, created online insurance exchanges where individuals can buy health coverage with income-based government subsidies. The exchanges opened on October 1 to sell plans for coverage effective January 1, but technology issues delayed enrollment for the first few months.

Feb 6, 2014

Aetna CEO says Obamacare exchange enrollment picking up

Feb 6 (Reuters) – Aetna Inc, the third-largest U.S.
health insurer, said on Thursday that demand for insurance plans
on the Obamacare exchanges had picked up in the last few weeks
and that it had signed up 135,000 paid members through the end
of January.

President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, often called
Obamacare, created online insurance exchanges where individuals
can buy health coverage with income-based government subsidies.
The exchanges opened on Oct. 1 to sell plans for coverage
effective Jan. 1, but technology issues held back sign-ups for
the first few months.

Feb 5, 2014

Humana says young people signing up for Obamacare

By Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – Humana Inc said on Wednesday that it received 202,000 applications for Obamacare health insurance plans, many of them from young people, but still gave a wide forecast for 2014 profit as it waits to see the demographics of future customers.

The U.S. health insurer made the disclosure as it reported a fourth-quarter loss due to a $243 million charge to set aside financial reserves for a group of long-term care policies that it no longer sells.

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.