Jan 2, 2018

The health insurance stock boom of 2017

Stock prices for the country's largest health insurance companies soared well above the rest of the stock market in 2017.

Between the lines: Even though the failed attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act created uncertainty and distractions, the health insurance industry still reaped record profits as it benefited from people using less expensive health care settings.

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
  • The Dow Jones index rose by about 24% in 2017. The only major insurer with a stock price that didn't surpass that pace was Humana.
  • No insurer benefited more than Centene, an insurance company that mostly deals with state Medicaid programs and the ACA's individual exchanges. Its stock climbed 76% in 2017.
  • The ACA marketplaces went through a lot of turmoil last year, but they only represent a small fraction of the business that publicly traded insurers offer.
  • Medicare and employer plans are still the profitable cathedrals of insurers.
  • The moratorium of the ACA's health insurer fee helped, too.
  • The collapse of the health insurance mega-mergers made a lot of bankers and lawyers rich, and it did not hurt those companies' stock prices either.

Go deeper

The health care debate we ought to be having

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images and Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans worry a lot about how to get and pay for good health care, but the 2020 presidential candidates are barely talking about what's at the root of these problems: Almost every incentive in the U.S. health care system is broken.

Why it matters: President Trump and most of the Democratic field are minimizing the hard conversations with voters about why health care eats up so much of each paycheck and what it would really take to change things.

The ACA is doing fine without a mandate penalty

Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Affordable Care Act’s insurance market has not been materially affected by the elimination of the individual mandate penalty — undercutting a key argument in the lawsuit urging the courts to strike down the health care law.

The big picture: Healthy enrollees have not left the market in droves, premiums have not spiked and there has been no market death spiral.

Go deeperArrowJan 14, 2020 - Health

Medicare for All's missing mental health discussion

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America's mental health care system is in dire need of an overhaul, but the any real specifics are largely missing from the 2020 debate about health care.

Why it matters: Suicide and drug overdose rates continue to rise, and the U.S. faces a shortage of mental health providers and a lack of access to treatment.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020