Caroline's Feed
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.

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.