UnitedHealth, Cigna, Humana, others see stocks fall on report of insurers gaming Medicare

UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Humana and other health insurance stocks dipped March 12 following a Wall Street Journal report stating the insurers boosted Medicare payments by gaming the Medicare Advantage plan rating system, Insider Louisville reports.

A March 11 analysis of federal data from WSJ revealed Humana, UnitedHealth, Aetna, Anthem and other health insurers providing Medicare Advantage plans use a tactic known as "crosswalking" to collect additional revenue from the federal government.

Medicare ranks Medicare Advantage plans on a quality scale of one to five stars, and pays bonuses to plans with high ratings. When a Medicare Advantage plan is not slated to receive a financial bonus, health insurance companies will merge those patients into plans with higher scores, which preserves the bonuses, according to WSJ.

UnitedHealth saw stocks fall 1.2 percent March 12, while Cigna shares dipped 3.5 percent and Humana stocks fell 1.6 percent, Insider Louisville reports. Anthem saw its shares drop about 1.3 percent from market close on March 9 to market close on March 12, while Aetna saw a less than 1 percent dip during the same period.

More articles on payer issues:
UnitedHealth taps former GlaxoSmithKline CEO to lead Optum: 4 things to know
Some Anthem patients afraid to use ED under new policy: 6 things to know
13 payer-provider contract disputes, resolutions in 2018 so far

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