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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

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
29 mins ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.