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UNITEDHEALTH GROUP

(UNH)
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U.S. government plan adjusts 2014 risk payments for health insurers

11/26/2013 | 08:37am EDT
U.S. President Obama talks about the Affordable Care Act at the White House in Washington

(Reuters) - The U.S. government has issued a proposal that would likely increase risk payments in 2014 to health insurers offering plans on the Obamacare exchanges after the companies complained a recent policy change allowing people to keep their insurance policies had changed the financial equation.

The rule, published on Monday in the Federal Register, lowered the threshold at which risk payments kick in for the sickest health plan members. The government proposed paying insurers 80 percent of claims greater than $45,000 in 2014. Previously the lower limit was $60,000.

There is a 30-day comment period for the proposed rule.

In addition, the government has proposed a state-specific adjustment for risk payments based on how many people in the state extend their current polices, Citibank analyst Carl McDonald explained in a research note.

The exchanges are being created as part of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law. An estimated 7 million people are expected to sign up.

Insurers including Aetna Inc, Humana Inc, WellPoint Inc, Cigna Corp, UnitedHealth Inc and Molina Healthcare Inc have all offered plans on the state-based exchanges.

"Whether good or bad, it's always worth pointing out that most of the publicly traded plans have little existing exposure to the individual market, while the exchange participation of several plans is quite limited in 2014," McDonald wrote.

As an incentive for participating in the exchanges, the insurers were promised certain risk payments for the first three years to help offset uncertainty about the health of participants.

Technology problems on the exchange have slowed enrollment significantly, calling into question whether insurers will get the mix of healthy and sick people on which they had based their premium rates.

When Obama announced a plan about two weeks ago to allow individuals to keep their current plans longer, insurers complained it would remove even more people from the pool of applicants and asked for adjustments to the risk payments.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)


ę Reuters 2013
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CIGNA CORPORATION -0.71% 227.25 Delayed Quote.9.16%
HUMANA INC. -5.71% 440.81 Delayed Quote.13.95%
MCDONALD'S CORPORATION -1.86% 241.78 Delayed Quote.14.81%
MOLINA HEALTHCARE, INC. -0.44% 259.17 Delayed Quote.21.86%
UNITEDHEALTH GROUP -1.43% 409.17 Delayed Quote.18.37%
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Financials (USD)
Sales 2021 283 B - -
Net income 2021 16 947 M - -
Net Debt 2021 16 851 M - -
P/E ratio 2021 23,1x
Yield 2021 1,26%
Capitalization 386 B 386 B -
EV / Sales 2021 1,42x
EV / Sales 2022 1,33x
Nbr of Employees 330 000
Free-Float 99,4%
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Mean consensus BUY
Number of Analysts 28
Last Close Price 409,17 $
Average target price 456,33 $
Spread / Average Target 11,5%
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Managers and Directors
Andrew Philip Witty Chief Executive Officer & Director
Dirk C. McMahon President & Chief Operating Officer
John Franklin Rex Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
Stephen J. Hemsley Chairman
Richard J. Migliori Chief Medical Officer & EVP-Medical Affairs
Sector and Competitors
1st jan.Capi. (M$)
UNITEDHEALTH GROUP18.37%386 135
ANTHEM, INC.18.33%92 633
CIGNA CORPORATION9.16%77 980
HUMANA INC.13.95%56 646
CENTENE CORPORATION16.16%40 656
MOLINA HEALTHCARE, INC.21.86%15 136