Was This Obamacare's Biggest Winner?

Who is Obamacare's biggest winner?

The answer to that question, of course, depends on the context in which it's presented. There are political winners (and losers) from implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Some individuals gained, but others didn't. The same is true for companies.

While hospitals benefited from the anticipation of Obamacare, their stocks didn't perform nearly as well as implementation approached and ultimately started. Gains for insurers participating in Obamacare have been mixed. One company, though, stands out from the crowd as probably the single biggest real winner from Obamacare so far -- private health insurance exchange operator eHealth  (NASDAQ: EHTH  ) .

Path to success
Over the last 12 months, shares of eHealth have skyrocketed 130%. The jump looked even more impressive earlier this year, when the stock peaked above $60 per share. Although eHealth's shares now trade at around $45, the company emerged as a huge winner from Obamacare.

It wasn't necessarily an easy path to achieve success. Gary Lauer, eHealth's CEO, camped out in Washington, D.C. quite a bit trying to persuade federal officials to allow eHealth to sign up individuals for insurance under the health reform law. EHealth's lobbying expenditures also more than doubled during the three-year period beginning in 2011 compared to the prior three-year period.

The company's big break finally came last July. EHealth and four other online insurance exchanges secured contracts with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, to enroll individuals signing up for insurance offered on the 36 state marketplaces operated by the federal government. 

This news sent eHealth's stock soaring as much as 30% in one day. That was just the beginning. Shares popped in September with the company's deal with Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU  ) to integrate eHealth's online health insurance comparison with Intuit's popular TurboTax software. EHealth's stock also steadily climbed during October as the federal Healthcare.gov website suffered through an embarrassing launch. 

Beating the feds at their own game
At the end of October, Gary Lauer actually offered to have eHealth replace Healthcare.gov until all of the website's problems were fixed -- for free. While the federal government didn't take him up on that offer, the juxtaposition was powerful. Not only did EHealth not hit any big technical snags, the company performed much better than the feds in a very important area -- the percentage of young Americans enrolling.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 made up 27% of total enrollees during February. That's up slightly from previous months, but it's still much lower than what many expected. 

It's also a lot worse than eHealth's record. The private health insurance exchange operator reported 39% of those signing up for Obamacare plans through its website from October through December were in the coveted 18-34 age range. More recent performance was even better. Between Jan. 1 and March 23, these younger individuals made up 45% of total enrollees.

Why was eHealth so much more successful on this front? One reason could be that the company's website is easier to use than the federal site. Perhaps an even bigger factor is that eHealth already attracted a lot of younger Americans. Company spokesman Brian Mast told CNBC that prior to the launch of Obamacare, over 50% of eHealth's customers were young individuals. 

eHealth might also be outperforming the feds in terms of the numbers of uninsured that have been reached. In a survey of shoppers on the company's website who selected Obamacare plans this year, more than half indicated that they were previously uninsured -- up from 34% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

The federal government hasn't released any official figures on how many previously uninsured individuals have signed up. However, a McKinsey survey conducted in February found that only 27% of customers selecting an Obamacare health plan through all possible sources (not just the official exchanges) were previously uninsured. 

RAND Corporation, a non-profit and non-partisan research organization, recently reported a similar finding. According to a recent RAND survey, around one-third of Obamacare enrollees had no health insurance prior to signing up for their new plans.

Waning ways?
We'll soon find out if eHealth is continuing its winning ways. The company reports first quarter financial results on May 1. There are at least a few reasons to think the momentum will keep going.

TurboTax could potentially turbocharge eHealth's fortunes. Intuit counts more than 25 million users of its tax software. Over the past several months, many of them likely opted to find out about their health insurance options via eHealth thanks to the deal signed between the two companies last year.

eHealth's growth opportunity isn't just limited to Obamacare. A partnership forged with Aetna (NYSE: AET  ) and HR Policy Association in March could lead to more doors being opened. Aetna and eHealth are working together to power HR Policy Association's retiree medical exchange used by many private employers.

However,eHealth currently trades at a multiple of 492 times trailing earnings. Even factoring in expected growth doesn't help too much: The stock's forward price-to-earnings value stands at 98. The private health insurance exchange operator will have to grow tremendously to continue to justify that sky-high valuation. If it doesn't, regardless of what happens with Obamacare, eHealth's winning ways could easily wane.

 

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  • Report this Comment On April 20, 2014, at 9:23 PM, JamesM wrote:

    Obamacare is a flagrant, bold, in-your-face violation of the 10th Amendment. As President James Madison said, "The powers of gov't are few and defined." NOT ANYMORE! We've become a dictatorship because of massive apathy! The OVERWHELMING of our elected and appointed politicians are anti-American, anti-Constitution, but 100% pro-new world order / world dictatorship under the U.N !!! Wake Up, America. GOD HELP US!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 12:04 AM, OsamasPajamas wrote:

    OVERTHROW OHBUMMERCARE --- THE UNAFFORDABLE CARE ACT !!!

    With apologies to the Kingston Trio and to Thomas Paine, these are the times that try men's souls.

    In the course of our nation's history, the American people have rallied bravely, whenever the Rights of Man have been threatened.

    Today a new crisis has arisen -- the launch of OhBummerCare --- a poisonous gift from Barak Bait-And-Switch OhBummer and his confederacy of schmucks. And where are the Republicans?

    They are dithering. They are candles in the wind. They flicker in one direction, and then another --- and there are less kind observations now afoot, across the fruited plain.

    The Republicans cannot find their bums, with both hands and a flashlight.

    They keep their cojones locked in a bank vault --- although if they were valuable to Republicans, you'd think that they'd take them out for a spin, once in awhile, now wouldn't you?

    When asked how best to destroy the Soviet communist dictatorship, novelist and Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn replied, "Don't lie." The corollary of that injunction is, "Tell the truth."

    You can keep your plan and your doctor if you want to? You’ll save on average $2,500 per year in premiums?

    Any such fraud in private industry would land the perp in the clink --- and good riddance to him, too. But OhBummer is armed and dangerous.

    This is a gangster government, of Barak Bait-And-Switch OhBummer, and the OhBummer Wrecking Crew.

    This is a dictatorship. If Republicans fail to smite it a mighty blow, then they are cowardly and worthless.

    Did I leave anything out? For what do we need the Republicans, if they will not fight?

    For now, just fund everything except OhBummerCare and let the Democrats shut down the government.

    It does not matter that the fascist Democrat-captured media will lie and blame the Republicans.

    The Democrats always lie. Lies are the heart and soul and the sword and shield of the Democrat party.

    To the Senate or House Republican I say this. "Be a man. Drive a wooden stake through the heart of OhBummerCare.

    "The vast majority of the American people do not want OhBummerCare --- so be a Happy Warrior --- and kill it."

    ==================================================

    START A PRAIRIE FIRE!

    START A TEA PARTY TSUNAMI!

    START A TAXPAYER REBELLION AGAINST THE TAX-EATERS!

    SHARE THESE SENTIMENTS WITH YOUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND NEIGHBORS, TODAY! $

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 1:26 AM, shineridge wrote:

    The American people are the biggest LOSERS with Obimbo Care !!! There is absoluely NOTHING affordable about it. Obummer Care is the biggest DISASTER to ever come out of Congress. The majority of Americans did not and DO NOT, want This MARXIST health care plan. But the DumoCRAPS rammed it down our throats anyway. This Nov, vote OUT of office, EVERY DAMNED DipoCRAP, and IMPEACH OBIMBO !!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 2:56 AM, rnlocnil wrote:

    addressing the article:

    Might it be more accurate to call it Rombamacare or Obneycare? Those of us from Massachusetts have seen much of this before, though at least from my viewpoint it may be a little better this time around. Still, you've got to give Romney some credit, whether he wants it or not!

    ----------

    E-Health seems to be doing ok for now, but doesn't success involve more than a few quarters? What will they be like 5 years from now? It's not like small investors can hire PhD's with computers to figure out which millisecond to

    sell. It certainly sounds like eHealth is doing something right. But 98 to 1???

    --------------

    --------------

    addressing Mr. "JamesM":

    While Madison was a smart man, I don't think it's fair to think he could anticipate medicine with anything near the capability of ours, or medicine with anything like the expense of ours. He may have anticipated the move to bigger business and bigger government, but I doubt he anticipated the stupendous scale our economy has reached. From what little I've read, and I'm no expert, he was not a wholehearted proponent of corporations. Yet, it seems to me that one impetus for the Affordable Care Act was the capricious and arbitrary way that the medical establishment, and insurance companies in particular, extract enormous sums from the average citizen without full and fair competition to restrain their prices and ensure actual service to citizens. It was developed

    under constraint, and I'm not sure it entirely succeeds, but I think Madison may have identified at least with the aims of the Affordable Care Act.

    Watching laws made is said to be as bad as watching sausage making, yet there is far more

    necessity for the former than the latter. Given the strife around this issue, we shouldbe surprised if every clause smells of sunshine and flowers. So far, it appears that the act has helped me personally, but I don't know how that plays out with each of the 300 million or so of us.

    As far as your phrase "anti-American", who in particular is authorized to define this category? From my own point of view, it seems to me that you are at least 1/300 millionth anti-American, since I'm an American too. Many generations worth, including one very small part of my ancestry whose history here goes back ten or twenty or thirty thousand years.* As if that should matter in this nation of immigrants. If the overwhelming majority of elected politicians are anti-American, and elections were anywhere near fair, might it be that most Americans are anti-American? If so what does that mean?

    Regarding your phrase "anti-Constitution", I think Madison himself would have conceded that, as part author, he know that Constitution was not the word of God and should not be worshipped as such. I'm sure he was well aware that it would not be read the same way by all parties, especially those with their own or someone else's axe to grind. Kindly remember that some misguided souls such as myself may sincerely want good things for the United States, and for it to become better than it is now as well, yet find ourselves in

    disagreement with you about a number of small things.

    As far as the United States fearing the UN, that is much like the proverbial elephant fearing a mouse. What power the UN has, to a large extent, has been given by us, and I'm sure it comes with many strings.

    Finally, from what I've read, it seems that most of the founding fathers, including Madison, didn't have an entirely comfortable relationship with established religion.So I'm not sure he would have gone so far as to say "GOD HELP US!!!", or at least not in all capitol letters.

    Lincoln (yes, that's my name, but no, not that one, even if I do seem to have a splitting headache)

    poor sportsman and shooter of fish in barrels

    *If I were to obey an exhortation such as "white man go home", I should be obliged to leave behind at least a toe or maybe even an ear on these shores. Which toe or ear, however, is open for debate.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 3:08 AM, bluepeahen wrote:

    Obama is a socialist with fascist dreams.

    Thanks democrats.

    YOU built this.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 3:09 AM, Cleats50 wrote:

    It is no surprise and is a disappointment the Obamaramacare supports federal Medicaid and Medicare companies rather that private non-profit insurers. There is no way that increasing free federal healthcare coverage will reduce this out of control OBAMA budget!

    My own younger brother who has serous health issues which were addressed by Public healthcare charity donations, now under Obamacare has to pay the penalty or $4,000 PER YEAR in premiums and deductibles while his small business owners (two of them) will pay only $2,500 for the same coverage. Really Barry doper, the employee has to pay thousands more for coverage he already had????? This little brother, this guy is THE PERSON you say has to be helped and yet you are Killing his income, his future, his life as an individual. You are A TWO Faced liar, Barack Obummer! Help Russell Namken out and make me eat crow! I dare you, you pothead!

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 3:36 AM, rnlocnil wrote:

    BTW, I don't know how other people are doing, but my premiums just went down over $2000 a year, and some of my benefits are better. So this is at least 1/300 millionth of America that was not lied to. At least about this. And it's somewhat better than I expected, to tell the truth.

    As far as the alternative, i.e. the former status quo, what did you think happened to people who didn't have health insurance and showed up at hospital doors? I won't claim they always received the best of care, but generally they got something, and those of us responsible enough to pay for our own insurance also paid for theirs. I know this because, back in the '80s, I was hired as a temp by Blue Cross to check on "free care" expenses at hospitals, toward which Blue Cross was required to contribute. I don't know if this requirement was from legislation, but I suspect it was a condition imposed by hospitals for Blue Cross to do business with them.

    As for anyone who thinks Obamacare is wrong because it's part of the government rather than a corporation, in the course of my employment the private sector, I have not observed it to be especially free of stupidity, waste, or mendacity. (Especially low grades of the latter.) Certainly it's not all bad, but it has no special purity. And in some situations, such as medical care, it seems to be extremely wasteful. Perhaps because medical care doesn't meet all the requirements for robust, capitalist competition.

    ------------------------

    "ObamasPajamas":

    As far as always rallying for the "rights of man", I can think of a few exceptions in our history. Or are black men not men? How about women, do their rights count? So, unless you disqualify both, that brings us up to either the end of Jim Crow (or, with a bit of realism, the present) or to 1920 (assuming you dispose of realism). We could also consider a certain freighter full of refugees refused entry to the United States in 1939. Historians estimate that a quarter of them were later killed in camps. I'm sure nowhere near that many would have been run over by cabs in New York. Like any other nation, our history is full of this stuff, though perhaps we're better than most.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 6:55 AM, Apb1074 wrote:

    The Affordable Care Act was originated in the Republican party. History will show you that. The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and the United States Supreme Court ruled it as Constitutional. You have to understand that the media/news especially fox news makes up stories and lies. They take stories and completely turn them around. You cannot impeach a President because you don't like him or an Act that was passed you don't approve of.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 8:04 AM, rickshelton53 wrote:

    One of my family members said premium cost was less then what she was paying with her other Ins coverages, but the out of pocket cost was higher.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 8:32 AM, SouthernBeach wrote:

    The losers are the 200 million people that had their Premiums and deductibles raised to pay for the few million people that had no health insurance. The same people still have no health Insurance because they still can't afford it or pay the deductibles. ObamaCare was a poorly thought out illogical Law that was voted and passed by Idiots that didn't even read or know what was in the Law. Nancy Pelosi even had her Husbands Company Exempt for the Law.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 8:35 AM, ohiodale wrote:

    The problem with obamacare is many doctors are not included in the plan. How would you like insurance that most good doctors do not accept? Also, Obamacare is good for those who get major subsidies. The bottom level plan is worthless because the deductibles and copays are so high. Nobody can afford the top plan unless you are rich or you get major subsides from the government. I know many people who are losing their insurance because of obamacare. I would like to see these numbers. Of course the youth like Obamacare because they are either healthy or niave. Insurance is great if you never have to use it and pay the deductibles and copays. I am not one of those who think everything aboue Obamacare is bad but the couple of things I mentioned are major issues.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 8:41 AM, mumsie wrote:

    How we rally for our right to remain at 47th worldwide in quality of health care. To remain the only Industrialized nation that doesn't provide affordable health care for everyone. No, their care is not free, they pay the actual cost not 50% profit to investors and insurers. The idiots missed the part about stock holders and huge profit increases for insurers. There are a lot of people who stand to lose profit from gambling on health care. They are the ones feeding you propaganda and paying for the coverage with your healthcare dollars. We pay hundreds percent more for healthcare and receive less in quality than citizens of other first world countries. All because the uninformed run screaming in terror from the word Socialism. Limit corporate profits from both the healthcare corporations that own our doctors and hospitals and demand accounting and justification of costs by pharmaceutical companies. Stock gamblers become richer betting on medical stock than the doctors who treat patients.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 8:42 AM, Michaellaborde wrote:

    Obamacares biggest winners are the liars/deception from the liberal lying democrats/Obama/corrupt.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 8:42 AM, SouthernBeach wrote:

    Apb1074 ... Come on what a Wopper of a Fib. The ACA did not originate by the Republicans. They are not very smart, but they are definitely not stupid enough to Write such a Terrible Bill for the American People. Now you Democrats are trying to lie about who wrote the Bill since it is so Bad for America. Higher premiums and deductibles mean less money for our citizens to have for their own family. Obamacare is not helping the poor class move up. It is moving the middle class more toward the Poor.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 8:56 AM, christian1269 wrote:

    The real winner of Obamacare will be morticians. After the Death Panels start pulling the plug on grandmas, morticians will experience a brisk demand for their services

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 9:30 AM, SLTom992 wrote:

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Chicago, IL

    Houston, TX

    Population

    2.7 million

    2.15 million

    Median HH Income

    $38,600

    $37,000

    % African-American

    38.9%

    24%

    % Hispanic

    29.9%

    44%

    % Asian

    5.5%

    6%

    % Non-Hispanic White

    28.7%

    26%

    Pretty similar until you compare the following:

    Chicago, IL

    Houston, TX

    Concealed Carry Legal

    no

    yes

    # of Gun Stores

    none

    184 Dedicated gun stores plus 1500 - legal places to buy guns- Wal-Mart, K-mart, sporting goods, etc.

    Homicides, 2012

    1,806

    207

    Homicides per 100K

    38.4

    9.6

    Avg. January high temperature (F)

    31

    63

    Democrat Conclusion: Cold weather, due to global warming, causes murder.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 9:38 AM, SLTom992 wrote:

    christian - the "death panels" aren't exactly that. They are panels that can set priorities in times of reduced availability of medical care. And under Obama-care that will be most of the time.

    One would expect that older people will get the dirty end of this stick but you can rest assured that these panels would be more than willing to take the financial success of the patient into account so to speak.

    But you can more than guarantee that those with criminal records such as smoking pot and cutting school and being without a job are going to be less valuable to these panels than hard working, financially sound individuals and families.

    The funny part is that the very people that voted Obama in on the weight of this law are the very one's most likely to lose ANY chance of medical care because of it.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 10:11 AM, xube wrote:

    Socialized Medicine is a key to a growing economy. Ask any German banker or CEO if he or she wants to have our system and the answer will be "HELL NO". Socialized Medicine saves business and industry trillions in not only worker health benefits but in law suits, workmen's comp. unemployment, retirement and accounting costs. Yes higher taxes but remember you get what you pay for and in the case of the U.S., we pay alot and receive very little. Ironically the Republican states are the ones who need Obamacare the most and cost we taxpayers trillions in benefits to those too damn stupid to cover themselves....

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 10:18 AM, syclonedave wrote:

    Obamacare has no place in a free America.

    It's illegal, unaffordable, unwanted,biased, and only designed to bankrupt the middle class and hurt Senior citizens.

    We have let a Muslim raised, Arab named, Socialist schooled man with a past that is sealed from the public come to America and instal Marxism....And he did.

    He isnt the problem, the dumbed down American voter is to blame.

    Turn off the Socialist driven news and study before you vote next time.

    Our democrats are Socialists today, and thay all must be removed and tried for treason.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 10:32 AM, ehuud wrote:

    This article was fact checked by Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth fairy.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 10:51 AM, SLTom992 wrote:

    @emmaesther - You obviously have not had health insurance and have no idea what Obama-care is like in comparison.

    44 out of 50 states have seen increases in the cost of health care by as much as DOUBLE and with increases of deductibles on the average double what they were before. The remaining six states have NOT had a reduction in the cost of health insurance - it simply hasn't risen.

    More and more employers are changing over to part time workers so that they do not have to offer health care. So some 5 million Americans have lost their employer supplied health care and must buy their own. Since they now have to pay the entire amount of their health care their payments are often as much as their rent for a family of four.

    Let's take a friend of mine for instance - He has been unemployed for over three years. He held down a high paying sales job before. He purchased a condo for which he is presently underwater. He has to rent his home out and is living in his car in order to make the payments on his condo. Because he owns his own home he doesn't qualify for government subsidies. He went to the California-Care website to investigate what it would cost for health insurance WHICH IS MANDATED. The cheapest policy available is $600 a month and with a $3500 deductible.

    Because of the greatly reduced profitability all of the hospitals in California have reduced their staff by 20% and many are making further cuts. You only have to walk around inside of a hospital today to see the effects of this on the cleanliness of these places. I visited my brother who was in a CPU and I drank his glass of lemonade that he didn't want and contracted a bladder infection in one day. And this was the BEST hospital in town.

    If this is what you're calling reform, you have a very strange sense of humor.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 10:53 AM, OlaftheHairy wrote:

    Obamacare is like a war, there are no winners, only losers. America has lost years against the rest of the world. Ramming this glitch-infested disaster down peoples throats was NOT the way to do it, that price will be paid in the upcoming elections.....

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 10:55 AM, OlaftheHairy wrote:

    @emmaesther - You are also posting ont eh Houston Chronicle with your same liberal blabber. Post some FACTS and quit drooling.....!!

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 12:34 PM, tnefouse wrote:

    E-Health may have a very difficult time with sales outside open enrollment. A person is going to have to have qualified event to be able to apply for a new a policy. This is a game changer when it comes to enrollment.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 2:36 PM, MDMDoyle wrote:

    Wow, you Americans will be your own demise. The ignorance on this thread is outstanding.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 2:49 PM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    The American people will be the big losers (so in effect there are no winners).

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 6:15 PM, taxedmore wrote:

    Obamacare's biggest winners - the millions of people getting something for nothing or heavily subsidized. The biggest losers - those that will have to pay for the freebies. Same story, different giveaway name.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 9:13 PM, malclave wrote:

    It doesn't really matter. Obamacare isn't designed to work... it's just battlefield preparation to get people to accept "single payer".

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2014, at 10:17 PM, damilkman wrote:

    Greetings. For those who hate or love Obama Care I wish you would not say silly things. The reason why we are FOOLS is we use facts, logic, and debate to make our points in the spirit of Webster/Calhoun/Clay. The claptrap is inane

    Me personally, I am against the health care laws for the same reason I am against most big government programs in they address symptoms instead of dealing with causes. It is ironic that the way the Government deals with health care is how our hospitals and the majority of America deals with their health.

    I have read multiple accusations of evil insurance companies. I would ask my fellow Fools to look at their balance sheets. There is just not that much money there. Then take a drive and visit the medical campus in Austin Texas or Ann Arbor Michigan. Construction everywhere! New Everything! Rich administration! The University not for profit is flush with cash. The reason why health care is so expensive is the hospitals, especially the university hospitals dictate costs. Read an itemized bill. The insanity ranges from the 5 dollars for the two advil, 40 dollars for the disposable gloves, three thousand dollars for the right to lie in a bed for eight hours and the list goes on. The university hospitals have no reason to bring in costs because its a sellers market.

    Also look at how doctors are accredited. The system is set up such that doctors are in demand. While our population has increased the number of accredited doctors remains static. As all FOOLS know when something is demand the price goes up.

    The last item to look at is just the same as the cost of education. Because the government guarantees payment the system remains flush with cash. With more and more people on the government dole the system of supply and demand gets warped. If most of us suddenly could not afford health care, guess what the hospitals would do, they would be forced to figure out a way. Why? Because with no customers they go out of business. We observe the same situation with education. The government guarantees loans so students can afford to pay the increased tuition. Tuition goes up another 10%, no worries government will cover it. Of course someone has to pay. In the case the students have obscene loans and little to show for it and tax payers have to pay the hospitals.

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