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Information for NH Residents on the Proposed Anthem-Cigna Merger

NH Insurance Department Reviewing Plan in
Coordination with Other States, Federal Government 

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department is working closely with other states and with the federal government to review the proposed merger between health insurance companies Anthem and Cigna.

The acquisition of Cigna by Anthem represents a combination of the two top commercial providers of health benefits in the state. As the primary regulator of the insurance industry in New Hampshire, the Insurance Department is playing an active role in reviewing the financial aspect of the proposed merger and will closely examine the potential effects on market competitiveness in the state. This process will include an opportunity for New Hampshire residents to voice their opinions.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has authority under its holding company law, RSA chapter 401-B, to review acquisitions that involve insurance companies domiciled or licensed in the state. An insurance company is said to be “domiciled” in the state in which an insurer is licensed (and chartered) to operate under that state’s individual statutes and regulations. The review process will involve both a financial review of the proposed transaction and a review of the proposed merger’s effects on health insurance markets in the state. The financial review will focus on Cigna HealthCare of New Hampshire, Inc., a small subsidiary of Cigna domiciled in the state, and on Anthem, Inc., the parent company based in Indiana. The markets review will focus more broadly on all the health insurance coverage Cigna and Anthem offer in New Hampshire.

image004Looking at the potential anti-competitive effects of the merger will be a crucial part of the Insurance Department’s review process.  According to the most recent analysis of New Hampshire health markets, the two companies involved in the merger are also the two largest companies involved in health coverage in the state; when both fully-insured and self-funded employer health coverage are included, Anthem accounts for 36% of the market and Cigna for 24%.  The Insurance Department has retained the services of an economist to help with the analysis of market impacts.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department will coordinate with other states, which have approval authority under their own laws, and with the U.S. Department of Justice, which also looks at the market effects of mergers. This large-scale review will take place over the coming year.

In New Hampshire, part of this process will include a public hearing, in which residents and other interested parties will have the opportunity to comment. Once a hearing has been scheduled, the Department will notify the public at least 15 days in advance.

The Insurance Department is accepting public comment. Emailed comments should be sent to Requests@ins.nh.gov. Written comments should be mailed to the New Hampshire Insurance Department, 21 South Fruit Street, Suite 14, Concord, NH, 03301, with “ATTN: ANTHEM-CIGNA MERGER.”

The Department will be closely scrutinizing whether this proposed merger would have negative effects on policyholders and whether it would hurt competition in the New Hampshire health insurance marketplace. Under state law, the merger cannot be approved if it will have significant anti-competitive effects, unless those effects will be offset by substantial benefits to the markets and/or New Hampshire consumers.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department Can Help

Contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your insurance coverage at 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-1406, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov. If you wish to file a grievance, you may call, email, or submit a complaint electronically or by mail or fax: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/consumers/complaints.htm.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

After Billions of $$$ to Stockholders, UnitedHealth Claims Poverty Due To Obamacare

By LaurMG, used by CreativeCommons license via Wikimedia Commons

By LaurMG, used by CreativeCommons license via Wikimedia Commons

SMH.

Yesterday’s 24/7WallSt article about UnitedHealth said that an “earnings warning” issued by the corporation “could be a serious blow to at least part of ACA/Obamacare.”

UnitedHealth’s latest advice to investors is that the corporation now expects slightly lower 2015 profits.  (Can’t help noticing: that recalculation includes a write-off of “$275 million related to the advance recognition of 2016 losses.” Nevermind that we haven’t actually gotten to 2016 yet; UnitedHealth is already calculating losses.)

Apparently, that press release was worth the headline “UnitedHealth Warning Creates Huge Spillover, With Big Implications Ahead.”

Just a month ago, 27/7WallSt was writing happier news about UnitedHealth. Quarterly earnings per share were better than expected, and better than 2014. Premiums were up 9.87% over last year. The company was adding about 100,000 new subscribers a month (1.7 million new people a year). And for the first three quarters of 2015, things were so rosy that UnitedHealth spent $1.1 billion buying back its own stock.

Plus, UnitedHealth paid out another $1.3 billion to shareholders in dividends, just in the first three quarters of 2015.

So… $2.4 billion paid out to shareholders in the first nine months of this yearand now suddenly there’s supposed to be some sort of crisis?  Wow.

Back to 24/7WallSt: “What has been interesting to see here is that UnitedHealth actually has seen its shares soar under ACA/Obamacare.”  Yes, that’s what happened.  The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.  Here’s what UnitedHealth’s stock price history looks like:UNH stock chart

Looks like UnitedHealth’s profits are up since Obamacare, too.  Here’s what their quarterly earnings-per-share history looks like:Am I the only one having a hard time seeing how this is a problem for UnitedHealth?

Back to 24/7WallSt. The headline from last month’s article: Are UnitedHealth Earnings Enough for Investors?

Hmmn.  Is investor greed the real crisis for Obamacare?

— — — —

insuranceYep, there’s more.

As of yesterday, the corporation’s new profit expectations “reflect a continuing deterioration in individual exchange-compliant product performance.”  Yep, they’re talking about policies sold to individuals through ACA exchanges, which apparently are not “performing” very well.  From the press release: “UnitedHealthcare has pulled back on its marketing efforts for individual exchange products in 2016. The Company is evaluating the viability of the insurance exchange product segment and will determine during the first half of 2016 to what extent it can continue to serve the public exchange markets in 2017.”

In other words: individual policies aren’t “performing” very well, from the corporation’s perspective.  So UnitedHealthcare may stop selling them.

UnitedHealth is currently the largest health insurance provider in America. Other large health insurance providers – Anthem and Cigna, Humana and Aetna – have plans to merge, which “could shrink the number of major companies in the health insurance industry from five to just three. And that could mean fewer options and higher rates for consumers and the employers that provide health insurance.”

And according to yesterday’s 24/7WallSt article, UnitedHealth’s (newest) earnings forecast “could be used by the companies to support those pending health insurance mergers.”  Apparently on the theory that the four other insurers are too small to compete in the individual policy “product segment.”  (Even though Centene Corp. and Kaiser Permanente seem to be doing just fine.)

Am I the only one wondering why UnitedHealth’s latest earnings warning would justify the mergers of its largest competitors?  Given the corporation’s “soaring” stock price.  Given the corporation’s growth in earnings-per-share.  Given the fact that the UnitedHealth paid out $2.4 billion to shareholders just in the first nine months of this year…?

Am I the only who remembers that Obamacare was intended to rein in profiteering by insurance companies?

Remember what it was like, back then?  “In the midst of a deep economic recession, America’s health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009, a year that saw 2.7 million people lose their private coverage.  The nation’s five largest for-profit insurers closed 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.”

So, yeah, I suppose someone could “blame” Obamacare for UnitedHealth’s current financial situation.  And the fact that UnitedHealth’s per-share profit (EPS) is 75% higher now than it was in 2009.

But if anybody’s going to start passing blame around, now that “the 2016 presidential election has brought the health care argument up more times than can easily be counted”…

I think we should also be talking about whether Obamacare managed to stop the corporate profiteering, like it was supposed to.

— — — —

Can’t help noticing…

Yesterday’s headlines were fueled by the sudden drop in UnitedHealth’s stock price, which followed its revised earnings statement.

But that was yesterday.  So far today, the stock price has recovered more than half of yesterday’s decline.

Which still leaves the stock trading at about four times its price in 2009.

— — — —

Read more NHLN coverage of stock buybacks here.

Consumer Alert: NH Residents, Be Wary of Scams Related to Anthem Cyber Attack

Anthem Building Cincinnati  (Image by City of Cincy FLIKR)

Anthem Building Cincinnati (Image by City of Cincy FLIKR)

CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire residents who may have been affected by the recent large-scale data breach at health insurance company Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield now face another potential threat: cyber scams.

Anthem’s national office announced this week that the insurer’s secure data had been breached and that personal information, including Social Security numbers, for potentially millions of its current and former members had been stolen.

Today, Anthem announced that residents should beware of scam email campaigns preying on those affected by the data breach.

“These scams designed to capture personal information (known as ‘phishing’) are designed to appear as if they are from Anthem and the emails include a ‘click here’ link for credit monitoring,” the insurance company announced today. “These emails are NOT from Anthem.”

Anthem says it will not call its members regarding the data breach but rather plans to send out information by the U.S. Postal Service. Anyone who receives an email purportedly from Anthem is urged not to click on any links in the email; not to reply to the email or reach out to the senders in any way; not to supply any information on any website linked to the email; and not to open any attachments that might arrive with the email.

“This outreach is from scam artists who are trying to trick consumers into sharing personal data,” Anthem said in a statement. “There is no indication that the scam email campaigns are being conducted by those that committed the cyber attack, or that the information accessed in the attack is being used by the scammers.”

What happened?
In late January, Anthem discovered the unauthorized access of consumer information including member names, member health identification numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, employment information, and income data.

What is Anthem doing to protect my information?
Anthem notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation and sent notices to Anthem consumers responding to consumer questions. Anthem is also working with a cybersecurity firm to evaluate the extent of the attack. Anthem will provide free credit monitoring and identify protection services to all who were affected.

What should I do now?
Most importantly, stay calm and continue to monitor the situation closely. Anthem has said it is not yet aware of any fraudulent activity against policyholders that has occurred as a result of the breach. However, as with any data breach, be on the lookout for suspicious activities that may try to phish or collect sensitive information, like user names, passwords, and credit card information. It is important that you take action immediately to protect yourself.

For more information, call (877) 263-7995, the toll-free number Anthem has established to assist consumers. Anthem has also set up a website, www.anthemfacts.com, to answer questions. Be sure to type in the web address directly.

You may want to consider placing a freeze on your credit report with the three major credit reporting agencies. This allows you to restrict access to your credit report, making it more difficult for identify thieves to open new accounts in your name. Be sure to protect the information of your family as well – including children and elderly parents. For more information about a credit freeze, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information Credit Freeze FAQs.

Contact your bank or credit card company if you notice suspicious activity on your account. You may ask them to put a security block on your account or pre-emptively request a new credit or debit card.

Make sure to closely monitor your accounts, credit score, bank, credit card and other financial information.

What is the New Hampshire Insurance Department doing?

In New Hampshire, there are insurance regulatory standards about data breaches as well as a state law addressing data breaches that encompasses insurance companies. The law includes requirements about supplying notice of security breaches to consumers.

“The Insurance Department has been in close communication with Anthem regarding this data breach, which potentially affects thousands of New Hampshire residents,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “We will ensure that the notices sent to consumers comply with state law, and we will continue to work closely on this situation.”

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

NH Rep Shea-Porter and Rep Kuster Introduce Continuous Coverage Fix to Affordable Care Act

Coverage Protection Act of 2013 would provide retroactive insurance coverage to Granite Staters who encountered technical issues during enrollment

Carol Shea Porter Official PhotoWASHINGTON, DC – New Hampshire Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) have introduced legislation to extend the payment deadline for people who were unable to complete the health insurance sign-up process because of website difficulties and processing delays. The Coverage Protection Act of 2013 would ensure that Granite Staters who encountered difficulties signing up for insurance through Healthcare.gov receive retroactive insurance coverage during the month of January.

“It’s inexcusable that Healthcare.gov wasn’t up and running properly on October 1,” Shea-Porter said. “But this bill will correct some issues by permitting retroactive coverage for individuals who could not complete the application process online.”

Ann kuster head shot LG“There is no question that the problems with Healthcare.gov have been completely unacceptable. But instead of undermining efforts to solve problems, we should focus on moving forward and finding common sense solutions,” Kuster said. “This bill would ensure that Granite Staters who were unable to sign up for coverage because of problems with Healthcare.gov will have access to the health insurance plans they need by the beginning of next year. I’ll keep fighting to make sure that New Hampshire families get the care they deserve.”

The announcement of the Coverage Protection Act of 2013 comes following news that most insurers, including Anthem in New Hampshire, will accept payments through January 10th for health coverage that starts January 1. Shea-Porter and Kuster’s legislation would provide retroactive insurance coverage to Jan. 1, 2014, for individuals who attempt to enroll and who pay their premium by Jan. 31, 2014. In doing so, the bill ensures that people who encountered technical difficulties are not discriminated against because they don’t yet have their insurance card.

This bill is not a free ride. It offers accountability on all sides by requiring enrollees to have made an effort to enroll in an exchange plan in time to receive coverage on January 1 and pay their premiums and any applicable cost-sharing fees by January 31.

Additional original cosponsors include Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01), Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), and Rep. Ron Barber (AZ-02).

 

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