Health insurers big winners in long-running bull market

The largest health insurers make up the S&P Managed Care sector and have led more than 1,100 percent in gains during the market's bull run — twice as much as biotech firms, according to CNBC.

A significant area of growth has been managed Medicaid programs. Nearly 15 million people gained coverage under the ACA's expansion of Medicaid. At a boon to insurers, over the last decade, states have increasingly tapped health insurers to manage their Medicaid populations.

For example, the shares of managed Medicaid insurer WellCare Health Plan increased more than 4,000 percent since March 2009. During the same period, its membership almost doubled to 4.3 million, and its annual revenues nearly tripled to $18.7 billion. Year to date, WellCare's stock is up 46 percent, CNBC reports.

Another managed Medicaid insurer, Centene, has seen shares climb 1,800 percent over the last nine years. In the same time, its membership has grown from 1.4 million to 12.3 million, thanks to a series of acquisitions, while annual revenues have grown from $3.4 billion to $59.8 billion. Centene's shares are up 42 percent year to date.

UnitedHealth Group's government plans have also driven growth for the insurer. UnitedHealth is up 19 percent year to date. Its shares have grown almost 1,400 percent over the past nine years. During the same period, its Medicaid and Medicare membership has more than doubled, according to CNBC.

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