Humana (HUM) and Aetna (AET) yesterday joined UnitedHealth (UNH) in saying that they would offer some Obamacare provisions regardless of whether the Supreme Court voids all or part of the Act, including free preventative care. However, WellPoint (WLP) and Cigna (CI) are holding back on any pledges until after the court rules. (previous)
UnitedHealth (UNH) starts offering many of the benefits mandated by Obamacare and will continue to do so even if the Supreme Court voids some or all of the Act. The reason for the policy is that it's not that expensive, and customers can, for example, keep their children on their health plans until age 26. However, they'll still be no coverage for children with pre-existing conditions.
Bernstein thinks UnitedHealth (UNH +0.3%) should be bought at current levels, saying the recent 30% increase in its dividend shows the company is confident in its future earnings and cash flow generation, and should alleviate investors' concerns about the pending Supreme Court decision.
UnitedHealth (UNH) announces a quarterly dividend of $0.2125/share, up from the $0.1625 in place since 2011 Q2. The Board also renews a 110M share repurchase program. The stock has a float of about 1B shares. "The Board's actions are grounded in the solid growth we are experiencing across our enterprise." Shares +7% premarket. (PR)
Walgreen (WAG +0.1%) extends its contract to provide pharmacy services to members of UnitedHealth's (UNH +0.2%) OptumRx drug-benefit plans. The multi-year deal comes as Walgreen suffers sales declines after not renewing its agreement with Express Scripts.
Over 50% of medical insurance policies sold to consumers don't match up to the requirements of the federal health law that's due to take effect in 2014, a study from the Commonwealth Fund shows. The law, which is being reviewed by the Supreme Court, will improve the terms of the policies for individuals, although it could lead to higher premiums.
Health insurers will rebate more than $1B to customers this year under a provision of the U.S. health-care overhaul that forces them to offer refunds on the premium dollars they don't spend. They have until June to finalize exactly how much the rebates will be, and are expected to go out by August. Critics say the provision does nothing to address the actual drivers of high health-care costs - particularly the cost of care.
The Government Accountability Office slams the Medicare Advantage demo project for spending over $8B on mainly rewarding plans with mediocre performances and recommends canceling it. Medicare Advantage was supposed to improve quality by allowing for coverage from private insurers such as UnitedHealth (UNH) and Humana (HUM).
The DJIA pokes its head into the green after being down nearly 100 points earlier. The S&P 500 (-0.3%) and Nasdaq (-0.3%) remain slightly negative. Leading on the upside are the health insurers as analysts conclude it's bullish if the Obamacare mandate is struck down and bullish if it's upheld. Sweet!
The market's interpreting the Supreme Court hearings over Obamacare as positive for insurers, which are getting a lift. Comments from Justices indicate they believe that if mandatory insurance is struck down, they may have to also void the rule requiring carriers to provide coverage to all. AET +5.3%, CVH +4.6%, CI +3.9%, UNH +3.4%, HUM +1.9%, WLP +2.1%, HNT +3.1%. (previously I, II)
"It appears that the mandate is in trouble," writes Paul Clement after perceived Supreme Court swing vote Anthony Kennedy - by his line of questioning - seems skeptical. Joe Weisenthal takes note of the sinking price of health insurers who stand to lose a big pool of customers should the mandate get struck down. AET -1.3%, UNH -0.5%, WLP -1.1%.
Supreme Court justices signal they're ready to confront Obamacare, but a decision still isn't expected until June. Bernstein suggests investors move in ahead of a ruling, naming UnitedHealth (UNH) as "likely to rally the most post closure," with Humana (HUM) the least exposed given its concentration in Medicare; WLP, CVH and AET also are seen as well-positioned.
UnitedHealth Group Inc designs products, provides services and applies technologies that improve access to health and well-being services, simplify the health care experience and make health care more affordable.