While good children will wait until December 25 to open their presents, Christmas has come early for the bad CEOS of soon-to-be-much-richer insurance companies.
Insurance-industry stocks rallied on the news that the Senate health-care “reform” bill will not include a government-guided “public option” — or an expansion of Medicare to cover uninsured Americans over age 55.
The Senate vote will not come until Christmas Eve morning. But private insurers — and stock-market speculators — were already celebrating the prospect that tehy would not be facing competition that might have forced them to set reasonable rates and provide humane coverage.
“Health care investors find themselves having confronted their greatest fear, and, while there will be legislation, it will be significantly watered down …” declared Mike O’Rourke, a leading market strategist.
That news have proven to be the gift that keeps on giving, according to industry analysts.
Aetna stock shares gained 4.7 percent.
Cigna shares rose 3.9 percent.
United Health and Wellpoint “rallied to 52-week highs,” according to an insider report that is being highlighted by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Democrat who has long advocated for single-payer health care and during the current debate has argued that, at the very least, any reform measure must include a robust public option.
The news that insurers are happy comes as no surprise, suggests Kucinich, who notes that a Marketwatch analysis says none of the new standards in the Senate bill will “impose great hardship on any insurers.”
In truth, Kucinich argues, it is more than a matter of avoiding hardship.
Insurers have genuine cause for celebration.
“Should the Senate bill becomes law, insurance companies will gain at least 26 million new customers and as much as $50 billion in new annual revenue from private-pay and from government subsidies as people will be required by law to purchase private insurance,” Kucinich points out. “While certain expenses are capped in the bill, it appears that premium costs are not.”