KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

WellPoint 2nd Quarter Earnings Jump 24%; Company Lists Future Possibilities

The nation's second-largest health insurer also outlined the benefits it expects to reap from the health law and other growth opportunities.

Los Angeles Times: WellPoint Earnings Jump 24% In Second-Quarter As Medical Costs Drop
WellPoint Inc., the country's second-largest insurer, beat Wall Street expectations with a second-quarter profit jump of 24% as lower medical costs partly helped the Indianapolis company post strong results. "We are pleased with our second-quarter results and encouraged by the positive momentum we have across the organization," said Joseph Swedish, WellPoint's chief executive since March (Lopez, 7/24).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: WellPoint's 2nd Quarter Profit Soars 24 Pct; Insurer Details Overhaul Growth Possibilities
Shares of WellPoint Inc. hit an all-time high Wednesday, after the nation's second-largest health insurer trounced second-quarter earnings expectations and detailed how it expects to benefit from the health care overhaul and other growth opportunities over the next few years. The Indianapolis company's stock had already climbed 44 percent so far this year as of Tuesday, as investors have grown more comfortable with both the insurer's current performance and how the overhaul will affect it (7/24).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: WellPoint Sees Small Employers Dropping Health Coverage;
As the nation prepares to roll out the next phase of Obamacare, the second biggest medical insurer said Wednesday that it expects to lose members in health insurance plans sponsored by smaller employers. At the same time, WellPoint expects membership gains in self-insured employer plans and in the kind of individual plans that will be sold in subsidized exchanges starting Oct. 1 (Hancock, 7/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Meet The CEO With Most At Stake In Health Law
Now four months into his stint atop the second-biggest U.S. insurer, [Joseph] Swedish is working to deliver. It is a tall order for the veteran hospital leader, 62 years old, who hasn't been an executive at a health plan before. Much of the federal overhaul law goes into effect next year, and WellPoint may be the company with the most at stake. "It's a revolutionary time in health care," Mr. Swedish said in an interview. "We've got to get this right" (Mathews, 7/24).

In other marketplace news -

Los Angeles Times: Kaiser's Rising Premiums Spark Employer Backlash
For years, Kaiser Permanente has won accolades for delivering high-quality care at an affordable price. The Oakland company's unique HMO model kept a lid on costs, and big employers flocked to enroll their workers to the point that Kaiser has become the largest health plan in California, grabbing more than 40% of the market. Now, some of Kaiser's biggest customers are complaining that the company is no longer a bargain and, even worse, standing in the way of controlling healthcare costs (Terhune, 7/24).

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