The very short version: United HealthCare is the biggest health care insurance provider in the country (something like 70 million people, apparently). It is huge, it is influential, it is weighty. And UHC took a $425 million dollar haircut last year in the Obamacare exchanges, so now it’s thinking of stopping selling on the exchange by the end of next year.
Note that UHC did not say that they would, merely that they might. They did this at a shareholders’ meeting, too; which suggests that a large part of that might have been due to UHC’s awareness that people were going to freak over the noticeably reduced earnings this quarter. Guess how the market reacted anyway?
Here’s today’s healthcare wreckage: $UNH ↓ 6% $ANTM ↓ 7% $AET ↓ 7% $HCA ↓ 7% $CNC ↓ 8% $CYH ↓ 8% $THC ↓ 8% $MOH ↓ 12%
— Bob Herman (@MHbherman) November 19, 2015
As you can see; not very well. UHC didn’t really fully join in on the exchanges when they were set up in the first place: they gingerly set up a few test markets in 2014 and then expanded in 2015. And now the company apparently has realized that the pool that they jumped into is in fact made out of acid and flesh-eating bacteria (work with me, here); so even the idea of them running, screaming, from that pool would obviously make investors in the other, smaller companies highly nervous. If the biggest players can’t make the system work, what happens to the players who are more locked into that system?
Yes, I know. It’s a great question, but one that lacks an answer. Except for the obvious one – we should never have passed Obamacare to begin with – but it’s not really helpful, is it? Then again, sometimes the answer pretty much has to be ‘pain.’ Negative reinforcement is a powerful teaching tool; and perhaps having a lot of shareholders watch with shock as their blue-chip health care stocks take an ongoing tumble will teach those shareholders valuable life lessons on the dangers of over-confident lawmaking, the folly of trying to do everything at once, and the utter idiocy of GIVING ANY DEMOCRATIC POLITICIAN A CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION, EVER.
Because no Republican voted for Obamacare. Because we were too busy telling people it was going to be a tragic mistake; and that ordinary citizens were going to take the hit right in their wallets. And, hey, it looks like we were right!
…Sorry, I guess? I mean, it’s not exactly my fault, but I do feel bad. Real people are suffering, thanks to Barack Obama, [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ], [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ], and their friends…