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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.
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