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UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH)

- NYSE
  • Jan. 7, 2014, 8:15 AM
    • Deutsche Bank upgrades UnitedHealth (UNH) to Buy from Hold citing a relative improvement in the company's margin risk profile.
    • Meanwhile, Humana (HUM) is cut to Sell from Hold.
    • UNH +1% premarket, HUM -1.7%
    | Comment!
  • Jan. 7, 2014, 3:33 AM
    • National healthcare spending grew less than 4% for the fourth year in a row in 2012, rising 3.7% to $2.8T, a report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services shows.
    • As a proportion of the total economy, expenditure edged down to 17.2% from 17.3%.
    • The authors of the report said that the continued slow increase in spending was due to the lingering impact of the recession but that Obamacare has had a limited effect. However, the White House said the figures vindicated the President's signature policy.
    • The authors were also cautious about whether the trend will continue, or whether growth will return to the higher levels experienced prior to the recession.
    • The cost of hospital care rose 4.9% in 2012 and that for doctors' services and outpatient clinics 4.6%, although spending on prescription drugs increased just 0.4%, due to patent expiries.
    • Relevant tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH, HCA, CYH, THC, UHS, HMA, LPNT, WAG, CVS, BIOS, RAD, MHS, PMC, OCR, MCK, CAH, ABC, ESRX, MHS, CAH.
    • ETFS: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 4 Comments
  • Jan. 5, 2014, 3:48 AM
    • Early reports from health providers and online medical booking service ZocDoc indicate that demand for care from those who bought insurance under Obamacare has been modest so far.
    • There have been fears that the technical problems of the government's HealthCare.gov Web site would cause a flood of patients who thought they had bought insurance to request care only to find that they weren't yet covered.
    • The actual pace of demand should give insurers more time to process the applications that they need to enter into their systems and issue membership cards.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Health insurers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • Hospital operators: HCA, CYH, THC, UHS, HMA, LPNT.
    • Pharmacies: WAG, CVS, BIOS, RAD, MHS, PMC, OCR.
    • ETFS: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 53 Comments
  • Jan. 1, 2014, 4:22 AM
    • More than 2.1M people have signed up for Obamacare-mandated health insurance, which has gone into effect today. That's an addition of 1.6M consumers in December, but somewhat below the 3.3M that was initially projected.
    • Administration officials also don't know how many people have paid, while insurers haven't received all the information they need about those who have bought plans. As a result, much confusion is expected when patients turn up for appointments, a situation the government is hoping to help alleviate with a toll-free call center.
    • Around 3.9M people are judged eligible for Medicaid and a related children's insurance program, although it's not known how many have signed up. Another 3M young Americans have coverage under their parents' plans.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Health insurers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • Hospital operators: HCA, CYH, THC, UHS, HMA, LPNT.
    • ETFS: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 27 Comments
  • Dec. 31, 2013, 4:09 AM
    • As of yesterday, only around half of those who had signed up for healthcare coverage offered by over 100 insurers in 17 states under Obamacare had paid for their plans.
    • As a result, confusion is set to reign when the coverage takes effect tomorrow and until insurers can process those payments and issue membership cards. Around 2M people have signed up for coverage.
    • Insurers are attempting to alleviate the situation for customers by saying they'll accept payment as late as January 31 for coverage that starts tomorrow.
    • Meanwhile, Pharmacy chains such as CVS Caremark (CVS) and Walgreen (WAG) will provide prescription medications to consumers who have started but not completed the sign-up process.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH. ETFS: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 5 Comments
  • Dec. 30, 2013, 4:12 AM
    • Over 1.1M people had signed up for health insurance under Obamacare via the government's HealthCare.gov Web site by the Christmas Eve deadline after 975,000 bought coverage this month.
    • Combined with those who acquired plans in Washington DC and 14 states that operate their own exchanges, around 2M people have obtained insurance. The government had hoped that 3.3M people would have signed up by now.
    • The next major test will come on Wednesday onwards, when the coverage is due to start. There are widespread concerns that patients will turn up for appointments and treatments only to find that their insurance application didn't go through properly, or that their new plans don't cover them for the care they want or need. As a result patients have been rushing to carry out tests, procedures and elective visits before the end of the year.
    • More Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • ETFS: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 13 Comments
  • Dec. 26, 2013, 3:55 AM
    • Federal and state governments are continuing to let people sign up for health coverage that takes effect on January 1 even though the latest national deadline passed on Tuesday.
    • Those who were unable to buy plans because of the problems affecting Obamacare's HealthCare.gov can contact a call center to see if they can still purchase plans, while Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island are allowing residents to sign up as late as New Year's Eve.
    • The continued shifting of the deadlines comes amid a late surge in attempts to buy coverage, with 2M people visiting HealthCare.gov on Monday.
    • However, it's not going down well with health insurers, who believe they won't have enough time to process all these late applications.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • ETFS: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 6 Comments
  • Dec. 24, 2013, 4:30 AM
    • Amid a last-minute crush to buy health-insurance coverage, the White House has extended by 24 hours to today the deadline for signing up for plans.
    • Over 1M people had logged onto the much maligned HealthCare.gov Web site by 5 pm yesterday, causing sluggishness and long waiting times.
    • The postponement is the latest example of how the government has arbitrarily moved deadlines and changed the parameters of Obamacare, causing huge uncertainty for insurers and consumers.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • ETFS: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 12 Comments
  • Dec. 22, 2013, 4:55 AM
    • Tomorrow is the deadline for people to sign up for health insurance that is due to take effect on January 1.
    • However, much uncertainty exists among insurers and consumers, due to government decisions to delay some of Obamacare's most important provisions, a result of the fiasco that has been the Healthcare.gov Web site, which suffered a three-hour outage on Friday.
    • The latest change is allowing anybody whose current plan is illegal under the new law to buy "catastrophic coverage", whereby benefits are limited and the deductibles are high. Those plans were initially supposed to be restricted to people under 30 years of age.
    • President Obama said on Friday that over 1M Americans have selected new health-insurance plans through the new exchanges. That's well below the initial target of 3.3M by the end of December.
    • Industry trade group Health Insurance Plans said its members will give consumers until January 10 to pay the first month's premium of a plan as long as they pick a scheme by tomorrow night. The move follows a request from the White House for insurance companies to be relaxed about the various deadlines.
    • The NYT profiles how Obamacare has hit those in the middle class who earn too much to be eligible for subsidies. "In some places, prices can quickly approach 20% of a person's income," the NYT writes. "Experts consider health insurance unaffordable once it exceeds 10%."
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 17 Comments
  • Dec. 15, 2013, 3:43 AM
    • Health insurers are continuing to receive error-strewn information from the government's HealthCare.gov Web site as the starting date for Obamacare coverage of January 1 draws closer.
    • However, the government maintains that the problems stem from data that was transferred to insurers in October and November, and that information passed over this month is accurate.
    • The government wants insurance companies to take a relaxed approach to the various deadlines and consumer coverage-issues that may crop up until all the kinks are ironed out, but whether the firms will comply is another matter.
    • Either way, bureaucratic chaos is expected to reign come the New Year.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 8 Comments
  • Dec. 11, 2013, 12:08 PM
    • "Any hopes of a roll-back of the 2% Medicare sequestration cuts were dashed as more details of the plan were revealed over the course of the evening," Deutsche's Scott Fidel notes, referencing the new U.S. budget agreement.
    • "In fact," Fidel continues, "under the budget deal the 2% Medicare payment cuts will actually be extended by two years through 2023."
    • Nevertheless, Deutsche doesn't think anyone was expecting much in the way of a roll-back anyway, and as such, the bank sees limited impact for MCO names.
    • AET, CI, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP
    | Comment!
  • Dec. 8, 2013, 4:58 AM
    • The government's HealthCare.gov Web site for Obamacare was failing to accurately transmit around 10% of applications to insurers - as of Friday - although that represents a vast improvement on the error rate in October.
    • Still, up to 25% of the enrollment records for people who bought coverage in October and November could contain mistakes, raising doubts about whether those customers would be insured if the policies take effect from January 1, as scheduled.
    • Meanwhile, insurers are working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on a short-term back-up system that will enable the government to pay the firms for the income-based subsidies that many consumers qualify for under Obamacare.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 3 Comments
  • Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 AM
    • Jefferies likes the long-term outlook for UnitedHealth's (UNH) health services platform Optum, noting that the business's 2016 "margin of 8% is an important, tangible target for longer term growth."
    • UNH reiterated at Buy.
    • Price target hiked to $86 from $82.
    | Comment!
  • Dec. 2, 2013, 7:29 AM
    • Ahead of its annual investor day to tomorrow, UnitedHealth (UNH) forecasts 2014 EPS of $5.40-5.60, below consensus of $5.67.
    • The company expects revenues of $128-129B vs $132.28B.
    • UnitedHealh reaffirms 2013 guidance for EPS of $5.40-5.50 vs $5.49. (PR)
    | Comment!
  • Dec. 2, 2013, 3:18 AM
    • The White House said yesterday that it has achieved its target of improving the HealthCare.gov Web site so that it works "smoothly for the vast majority of users."
    • Officially, the portal is now operating over 90% of the time vs 40% at some points in October, the loading time is much faster, the error rate has dropped to 0.75% from 6%, and the site can handle 50,000 users at the same time.
    • However, the latter claim hasn't been tested in the real world, and some in the government reportedly aren't certain the site will hold up.
    • The back-end systems continue to be a problem, with one result being that while some consumers believe they've bought coverage from insurers, the latter don't have any records of the transactions. One detail that the government didn't provide was how many people are completing all the enrollment steps.
    • The next deadline is the middle of this month, by which time consumers need to have signed up for coverage that starts on January 1.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 2 Comments
  • Nov. 29, 2013, 5:21 AM
    • Tomorrow is the White House's self-imposed deadline for the federal HealthCare.gov Web site to be working properly for 80% of users.
    • However, "navigators" whose job it is to help people sign up say that problems persist. It's "kind of hit and miss," says one, although "there have definitely been more hits lately than in the past." The COO of Enroll Alaska rates the site 4/10.
    • Molina Healthcare (MOH) has expressed its support. "It is easier to navigate. It's working better. It's faster," Molina said.
    • More problems for the portal could lead to millions of Americans to decide to forego buying coverage and swallow the fine instead.
    • The participation of the young and healthy is particularly important to the success of the insurance exchanges.
    • Should the problems continue, the government might come under pressure to extend the March 31 deadline for open enrollment, a move that insurers have warned could undermine the market.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 1 Comment
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Company Description
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.
Sector: Healthcare
Country: United States