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The Truth Behind the Obamacare "Death Spiral"

WellPoint  (NYSE: ANTM  ) has long been the insurer most bullish on Obamacare and the health insurance exchanges produced by the law. The company made a concerted push to participate in exchanges, and management remained comparatively confident even when enrollment numbers looked likely to miss estimates due to technical problems with In reporting its first quarter earnings, management seemed even more confident, noting that they estimated at least 600,000 new members from the exchanges alone (though management noted that even that number may be conservative) and reported 1.3 million new members total this past quarter, a 4% lift in membership.

But, as all investors who have been following the Obamacare story know, it's not just number of members that tell the investment story here -- it's also the demographics and whether the insurer can turn a profit on the new members it enrolls. Failing to do so could potentially cause the often discussed so-called "Obamacare death spiral," wherein premiums would increase and fewer, sicker people would sign up for health insurance, causing a loop of premium increases and declining enrollment. In this video, from Friday's Market Checkup, Motley Fool health care analysts Michael Douglass and David Williamson dig into the numbers and look at the truth behind the Obamacare death spiral and how WellPoint's earnings prove that it won't happen.

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  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 10:04 AM, zzzztop wrote:

    I love what you guys do... but you really need to get some advice on the sound of your videos. The level is low, the treble is not there and some of your panel members speak in a rushed and garbled manner.

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Michael Douglass

As the Motley Fool's Health Care Editor/Analyst, I focus on all things health care -- although my greatest interest is in the megatrends reshaping the American health care system, including the Affordable Care Act, Accountable Care Organizations, a shifting regulatory landscape, and the new drug discoveries fundamentally changing disease management and treatment.

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