Dow Jones Newswire reports that a US Senate Commerce Committee investigation found that the six largest US health insurers spent less on medical care than what industry officials estimated. Of the total amount received in premiums by the companies in the individual insurance market, 74 cents of every dollar were spent on medical care, according to a review of publicly available of data on industry earnings. Meanwhile, America's Health Insurance Plans estimated that the industry spent an average of 87 cents of every premium dollar on medical care. Click Here for Complete Story
Forbes Magazine notes that although "most of the major managed-care companies" have announced strong 3Q results, the message "during this earnings season is that HMOs are focused on rebuilding margins, even if it makes insurance even less affordable." Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Borsch "calls it 'the highest pricing trend in years.' The premium increases he's seeing are in the neighborhood of 13 to 15 percent for next year." Analysts say HMOs are concentrating on making up for operating profit margins, which "reached zero last year for the industry as whole." Moreover, the companies not only want recompense for the "higher costs" they incurred this year from COBRA, they must "cover rising ordinary medical costs that show no signs of slowing down." Barclays analyst Joshua Raskin predicts overall health spending in 2010 will "climb 9 percent."