In stark contrast to Clinton-era health reform, health insurance companies like UnitedHealth Group
But they're not sitting on their hands, either. The industry sent its lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), to Obama's health-care summit earlier this month, and Aetna
The industry basically seems opposed to two issues:
- A government-run plan competing with private health insurers.
- Requiring the companies to accept preexisting conditions without making health insurance a requirement.
I'm not sure the companies really have to win the first point to stay alive. Sure, the government can theoretically do it for cheaper since it doesn't need to show a profit, but let's face it -- government programs don't exactly give you a warm-and-fuzzy feeling. There's a reason that seniors are willing to pay for Humana's
The second one seems like a deal-breaker. If the government tries to force health insurers to accept sick patients without requiring the healthy ones to pay up, prices are going to skyrocket -- exactly opposite of the administration’s goal. If the president or Congress tries to insist on this, I think it's safe to expect that we'll see Harry and Louise come out of retirement.
While the health insurers are sitting at the table, we're a long way from a deal as far as I can tell. That means shares of health insurance stocks are going to continue to look like those of Citigroup
Get off the roller coaster and read this Foolishness:
Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares of UnitedHealth, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.