Aug 20, 2018

Insurers' incredible bull market

Photo: David Hogan/Getty Images

The S&P 500 is up by more than 300% over the past nine years. The S&P Managed Care sector, which includes the country's biggest health insurers, is up more than 1,100% over the same period.

Why it matters: That's a big surprise for some analysts, who in 2009 thought the ACA would be bad news for the insurance industry, CNBC reports.

Flashback: Insurers' stocks were at a particularly low point in 2009, when the overall stock market hit its recession-era bottom, in part because investors were worried about regulations in what would become the ACA.

Surprise! Giving an industry millions of new customers, with most of their purchases subsidized by the federal government, is actually quite good for the bottom line.

Between the lines: The ACA's Medicaid expansion has been the biggest boon, CNBC writes, because it coincided with so many states transitioning to Medicaid managed care — allowing private insurers to administer their programs.

  • Diversification — like UnitedHealth Group's growing Optum unit — also helped.

The biggest winners, per CNBC:

  • United's stock has gone up 1,400% since 2009. Centene is up 1,800%, and Medicaid insurer WellCare is up 4,000%.

Wall Street isn't worried about the future. Despite their panic about the ACA in 2009, at least some investors now aren't even too worried about the growing popularity of single-payer.

  • "Even if it's Medicare for all, it would probably be Medicare Advantage for All," Standard & Poor's analyst Deep Banerjee tells CNBC. "Health care today is a public-private partnership ... it's very hard to see a system without a private player meaningfully involved."

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,513,358 — Total deaths: 88,415 — Total recoveries: 329,329Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 430,376 — Total deaths: 14,739 — Total recoveries: 23,707Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: New York tops previous day's record death toll

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in the state in 24 hours. The state has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Why it matters: Public health officials have warned this would be a particularly deadly week for America, even as New York began to see declining trends of hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 31 mins ago - Health

The pandemic and pollution

New York City's skyline on a smoggy day in May 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.

Why it matters: Old-fashioned air pollution is almost certainly the single biggest environmental health threat, contributing to the deaths of some 7 million people a year according to the WHO, making it comparable to deaths from smoking.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health