By Sean Williams
The day of reckoning has come and gone.
Yesterday, the insurance fate of millions of Americans was decided with one vote by the Supreme Court which upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Although the victory wasn't overwhelming – just a 5-4 vote – it does set the stage for drastic changes across the health-care landscape that will begin immediately, in anticipation of the bill's full enactment in 2014.
Here at the Fool, we've thoroughly dissected the Affordable Care Act, looking at it from every angle and considering every possible outcome. But one thing we haven't done, and that I intend to do, is look at non-health-care companies that stand to benefit indirectly from the passing of the Affordable Care Act. While these names might seem brutally obscure at first, I think you'll find that the reasoning behind my choices makes sense.
Here are the five non-health-care companies I believe are poised to benefit from the Obamacare ruling:
Go ahead and scratch your head, because that's going to be a common reaction to all five companies mentioned here. The connection between Obamacare and our nation's largest shipping companies is simply health-care logistics!
As reported by The Wall Street Journal earlier this week, UPS has a deal in place with medical-device company Medtronic to ship up to 4,000 insulin pumps daily to patients. Similarly, FedEx last month announced new temperature-sensitive packaging that will help spur its health-care supply chain growth internationally (in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa).
With greater access to medical care, I can only assume that the demand for the medical devices and drugs that UPS, FedEx, and Germany's DHL ship is bound to rise. Device and drug manufacturers have a mountain of things to worry about as they work to get themselves in compliance with the regulations of the ACA before it goes into full effect in 2014, so they have increasingly been turning over the supply logistics side of their business to these shipping companies. They are a sneaky, but sizable, beneficiary of the ruling.
I can already feel the seething political hatred flowing my direction for choosing Monster Worldwide, an online employment-solutions provider, as an Obamacare beneficiary. Despite the insistence that job losses will be negligible with the passing of Obamacare, I can't ignore the job loss projections thrown around by medical-device companies and their CEOs over the past few months. A medical-device excise tax of 2.3% of total revenue is bound to dampen research and development budgets, and it will likely result in layoffs as companies look overseas for more tax-friendly countries to operate in.
That's where Monster Worldwide comes in. If medical-device companies go through with expense-saving layoffs or move their operations overseas, as many have hinted, quite a few highly specialized workers will be in need of a job. You could also say that LinkedIn's networking platform may be a beneficiary, too, but from a strict job-seeking standpoint, Monster Worldwide could see added business from the additional listing of laid-off skilled workers.
Hungry for an answer as to how the provider of premium and organic foods is going to benefit from the passing of a health-care reform bill? Fear not – I have the answer!
The answer to this riddle lies in the expansion of Medicaid to lower- and middle-income families. Once Medicaid expands and about 16 million to 20 million newly insurable people are eligible for government-sponsored health-care coverage, I fully expect many of them to take advantage of their ability to get annual checkups.
Now, does anyone recall what happened the last time they went and saw their doctor for an annual checkup? You were probably told you needed to exercise more and eat better (almost makes me wonder whether they read that line from a cue card!). While that could mean great news for gyms, it's even better news for organic- and healthful-food provider Whole Foods, which could see an uptick in business as the newly insured try to eat better. Granted, Medicaid recipients may not be the affluent customers that tend to shop at Whole Foods, but given that margins in the supermarket business are measured in inches, any edge, no matter how small, could give Whole Foods a big boost.
Despite popular belief, Google isn't the answer to everything – and yet in this instance, it is!
As the final beneficiary on my list, Google stands to be a winner because of the new pricing regulations being put in place by the ACA. With insurers unable to rapidly raise premiums without a valid reason and insurance acceptance guaranteed by the ACA, pricing in many areas of the health-care sector should become more competitive. What better way for health-care companies to target prospective members than through online advertising? An administrative cap on health-care insurer spending could also work in Google's favor, as insurers will need to be prudent with their spending habits. Google's rates are reasonably low, yet ads still hit a wide target audience.
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