Monday, July 18, 2005

Wall Street on Health Policy

I often find useful medical news in sources such as the Wall Street Journal even before it makes the medical journals, as investors need accurate information as early as possible. Investors also appreciate opinion on health care policy free of partisan spin, and this led to some interesting statements at an investors health care forum last week, as reported by The Commonwealth Fund. Here's some items from the forum:
  • Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, declared the Medicare Advantage program created by the Medicare overhaul law a short-term "gold mine" for managed care plans. Laszewski also likened the health insurance industry's prospects overall to a "long walk off a short pier."

  • Other Wall Street predictions of up to 30 million people getting Medicare drug benefits are "incredibly aggressive," said Ted Shannon, a stock analyst with Janus Capital Management. The risks of entering the market are not well understood by insurers, and finding people to enroll could be difficult, he said.
  • Health savings accounts are making a big splash in the individual market and are attractive to small employers, Goodman said, but their benefits are overstated. Laszewski agreed emphatically, mocking the excited chatter of health savings account advocates about the benefits of having "skin in the game—yada yada." In "about another year or two, we're going to get this out of our systems," he said. I previously discussed problems with Health Savings Accounts here.


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