The Nashville Health Care Council is making another push to raise its profile outside Middle Tennessee by co-organizing an event on accountable care organizations next month at the New York Yacht Club. The gathering, which is being hosted by financial advisory firm Marwood Group, will feature former Vanguard Health Systems Vice Chairman Keith Pitts and will focus on trends and how ACOs are changing care coordination, quality of care and cost.
Also of note regarding the Big Apple event: It is being co-sponsored by United Community Bank, which this spring set up shop in Nashville with an eye on the health care sector.
We pointed out yesterday that hospital stocks have been on a tear in the past week and change. Bill Berkrot at Reuters followed up with a few analysts who had some good insights about the high traffic on the new insurance exchanges. Among them: Companies with higher bed counts in states that aren't expanding Medicaid stand to get a bigger reform boost.
"The hospitals that are doing well are those that have a high percentage of beds in Florida and Texas," he said. "We're expecting a bigger exchange participation there because Medicaid isn't being expanded in those states," Nelson said.
A Nashville-area family of four with an annual income of $50,000 will soon be able to buy basic health insurance for $135 per month, according to a government report released Tuesday. That's $40 more than the average rate in the 36 states in which the federal government is taking the lead on managing the new insurance exchanges. (A more comprehensive "silver" plan will cost $282 per month.)
About seven million people are expected to sign up for coverage during the coming open enrollment period, which will last until March. Department of Health and Human Services officials said Tuesday they are pleased with the cost projections, which are generally lower than had been expected.
Politics aside, states with the lowest average premium tend to have more insurance companies offering plans, the report said. It said eight issuers on average were selling plans in the states with average premiums in the lowest 25 percent, while states with average premiums in the top 25 percent had only three insurers on average.
Shares of HCA Holdings have gotten a nice boost from Mizuho Securities analyst Ann Hynes, who this morning raised her rating on the hospital giant to 'buy' from 'neutral' based on the growth prospects that come with health care reform. Hynes also hiked her price target for HCA to $51 from $42, which leaves more than 20 percent of upside from the $41.85 (Ticker: HCA) where they were changing hands early this afternoon.
We're a few weeks away from the opening up of many new insurance exchanges under the umbrella of health care reform, and it looks like investors' expectations are being dialed down a good bit. Citigroup analysts Gary Taylor and Carl McDonald said this morning that the market is counting on about 4 million people signing up for health insurance in the coming months. That's down from the 7 million projected earlier this year by the Congressional Budget Office. But Taylor and McDonald say any perceived shortfall could become an opportunity to snap up shares of HCA (Ticker: HCA) more cheaply than today.
Also on the health care spending front, Moody's analyst Ron Neysmith said size is becoming increasingly important in the ambulatory surgery space, which favors Nashville-based AmSurg (Ticker: AMSG) and Symbion, among others. Surgery centers' relatively low overhead and lower reimbursement rates have made them more attractive to insurers paying the bills, Neysmith writes, and have allowed the industry's volumes to easily outpace those of the hospital sector. There are some bumps ahead in terms of payment changes, he adds, but the fundamentals are in place for solid long-term growth.
Brandon Edwards, CEO of health care public relations firm ReviveHealth, has penned a good read on how many health insurance exchanges might look once they're rolled out this fall. The short answer: Cheaper than expected but you'll get what you pay for. And that will have repercussions for the insured, the insurers and the hospitals between them.
When will consumers discover that their BlueCross isn’t the BlueCross that parents, friends, or work colleagues have? When will they realize they bought a product that is significantly inferior to what others buy, and who will they blame? And how will hospitals deal with a new pool of uneducated health care consumers who may unleash their dissatisfaction with out-of-pocket costs on an unsuspecting hospital or physician’s office? There could be a scary backlash lurking in the wings.
Shares of HCA Holdings, Community Health Systems, LifePoint Hospitals and their peers all are down in Wednesday trading after the Obama administration said it will give large employers another year to comply with health care reform's insurance requirements. Among the locals, industry leader HCA is taking the news hardest and is down about 4 percent — on heavy volume — to its lowest point since February. Community and LifePoint are giving up about 2 percent.
A little perspective is in order, though: Shares of HCA, CHS and LifePoint all are still up more than 17 percent year to date, outpacing the gain of the S&P 500. Check the chart here.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS