KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Humana Posts Loss But Says New Members Are Younger Than Expected

Insurer Humana said it lost money in the fourth quarter of last year over increased expenses and a drop in membership. At the same time, it says its health law enrollees are younger than expected.

The Wall Street Journal: Humana Swings To Loss On Increased Costs 
Humana Inc. swung to a fourth-quarter loss as the Medicare-focused insurer posted an increase in operating expenses and a slight drop in medical membership. Humana and its peers face shrinking government funding for Medicare Advantage plans, which are the private industry's version of the health plan for the elderly and disabled. Humana is more tethered to these plans than any other big insurers, making its ability to digest lower incoming payments while guarding profit margins a key issue. However, the company said it expects continued growth in 2015 and beyond due to changes in public policy surrounding government programs (Rubin and Mason, 2/5).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Humana ACA Enrollees Younger Than Expected
Here’s more fodder for the debate over whether older, sicker members will swamp insurance plans created by the Affordable Care Act. Insurers have wondered whether enough younger, healthier 'invincibles' would sign up through online exchanges to subsidize folks with poorer health. The worry was that, without their premiums, expenses for older folks would drive up average costs and make plans less affordable (Hancock, 2/5).

The Fiscal Times: Humana: More People Under 40 Signing Up For Obamacare 
Good news for Obamacare.  The group most crucial to Obamacare’s success are signing up for coverage through the new health exchanges ahead of the March 31 enrollment deadline according to Humana, a large health insurer.  During a meeting with analysts and investors, Humana’s CEO Bruce Broussard said the insurance behemoth is “seeing enrollees skewing to the younger side,” Forbes reported. Humana execs added they are pleased with the mix of people they have enrolled so far and say they are confident that “they have priced their exchanges appropriately” (Ehley, 2/5).

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