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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.

Expand chart
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

1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.