The coming implementation of Obamacare has investors looking closely at health-insurance providers as a potential investment play. But after rising sharply for a long time, health-insurance stocks have started to fall back. Could fears about Obamacare's uncertain impact on the industry be hurting shareholders?
In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning and author of the special free report "Everything You Need to Know About Obamacare," talks with Motley Fool health-care bureau chief Max Macaluso about health-insurance stocks and the impact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have on them. As Dan notes, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) and WellPoint (NYSE:ANTM) have both risen about 30% to 40% in the past year. Some of their industry peers, including Cigna (NYSE:CI) and Aetna (NYSE:AET), have posted even more impressive gains in the 70% range.
In discussing the reasons for those gains, Dan points to several positive trends that aren't directly related to Obamacare, including lower spending on health care generally. UnitedHealth's Optum health-management and pharmacy-benefits unit has also helped contribute to the insurer's bottom line. Moreover, WellPoint's purchase of Amerigroup and Cigna's buyout of HealthSpring have represented strategic moves to bolster their prospects in light of anticipated expansions in Medicaid and Medicare-related business.
Max and Dan discuss how all of these companies are handling Obamacare's health-insurance exchanges, noting differences in the strategies they're taking. They conclude with their observations about whether the stocks can keep climbing and what they need to see from Obamacare's implementation in order to succeed.