Biggest winners in Obamacare? The health insurance companies. Very “progressive.”

ocare Big 5

Now everybody has to buy their product. One way or another. If someone doesn’t they are fined by the IRS. That is a pretty sweet deal for the insurance companies.

But we are told how Obamacare is a “progressive reform.” How finally everyone can get healthcare. How the President “stood up” to the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.

Nonsense. Barrack Obama is the largest enabler of the big 5 health insurance companies there has ever been, by a long shot.

This is what hyper-statist Roosevelt Institute had to say. (They’d prefer a single payer plan of course.But the statement is interesting nonetheless.)

We’ve had a bailout for bankers and now the principle seems to be extended to the insurance industry. As Randy Wray and I discussed in a recent paper, the health care bill just signed into law entrenches the centrality of private health insurance companies and contain no serious proposals to limit costs. More people will get hit with deductions, co-pays, annual limits (for several more years), exclusions, out of pocket expenses. This will ensure that health CARE remains too expensive to actually take advantage of their new INSURANCE. And many currently insured people are going to get higher taxes. Premiums will rise.

A few paragraphs down they offer a valuable insight into the Obamacare political calculation by those in the “progressive” camp.

Our progressive allies have criticized us for drawing attention to these uncomfortable truths and failing to celebrate the President’s great social triumph. Yes, it may well have been catastrophic had the bill not passed, as it probably would have emboldened the radical forces of the right and torpedoed any hope of further significant reform legislation of any kind.

In other words—Even if Obamacare is a crony capitalist giveaway to the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, the statist establishment must shine up the dung, because it is progressive dung. The heap of stinking subsidies is better than nothing. [sic]

Obamacare might be soft fascism, but fascism is better than letting the classical liberals win.

From the pro-market side of things Robert Lenzer at had this to say in a recent column;

We warned you back on December4, 2009 in my blog ” The Horrendous Truth About Health Care Reform” that the Obama White House was handing a “ free ride for the health insurance industry” that would allow premium hikes of 8%-10% a year by CIGNA, Humana HUM -0.74%Aetna AET -0.56%,UnitedHealth Group UNH -0.46% and Wellpoint, and as well  a $500 billion taxpayer subsidy, a half trillion dollars without any requirement that the health insurers had to spend the subsidy on medical care. Several US Senators including Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia spoke to me openly of the outrageous sellout being foisted on the nation’s uninsured citizens.

The hardcore socialists don’t like Obamcare. The free market people don’t like Obamacare. The only people who seem to like Obamacare are Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the crony capitalists entrenched in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

How profitable is Obamacare likely to be for the “Big Five” health insurance companies? It looks like quite profitable indeed judging by the rise in healthcare stocks over the last year.

Aetna’s up nearly 50% in a year.

ocare Aetna

Humana and UnitedHealth are both up around 30%.

ocare Humana

ocare United Health

Wellpoint is up over 40%.

ocare wellpoint cc

And Cigna is up almost 60% in a year.

ocare Cigna

These are breathtaking returns. Over the past year these healthcare stocks have vastly outperformed the overall market.

Given that stocks are a reflection (for the most part) of anticipated earnings, what does this tell us about Obamacare?

Obama has increased profits for insurance companies, while burdening the overall economy with massive new regulations. It has forced many full time workers into part time jobs. It has expanded the power of the IRS and given the agency even more access to the lives of everyday Americans. It has forced spouses off of employer funded plans and it will raise premiums for most of those who purchase individual policies.

That the Obamacare website keeps exploding should be considered a blessing.

Doug 5pts

"How profitable is Obamacare likely to be for the “Big Five” health insurance companies? It looks like quite profitable indeed judging by the rise in healthcare stocks over the last year."

Okay first of all stock price and profit are not always correlated. Many stocks have shot up WITHOUT having made any profits. Also when taken in the context of the stock market as a whole, the S&P 500, for example, is up over 20% YTD so while this sector seems to be doing better this is not a shocking outlier. 

Now there are still issues with the ACA but for people who have preexisting conditions or cannot get healthcare through an employer this may literally save their lives.

Jeff Hodder
Jeff Hodder 5pts

Whats ridiculous is that we are the only developed country in the World not to have Universal health care .

Bernard Libby
Bernard Libby 5pts

Very easy, when Obama let the insurance executives write the law. That has been my no# 1 complaint until congress exempted themselves from it.

Bo Bendtsen
Bo Bendtsen 5pts

nothing prevents you from paying out of pocket and not using insurance or government help.

William Constande
William Constande 5pts

I am against them both. It is extortion. I have worked in healthcare and Insurance for over 20 years and I can assure you we do not love, nor even care for our customers. We wish they would die younger or not survive birth. It literally makes us more money.

George Daly
George Daly 5pts

I stand to be corrected, but the "USA Obama-care" is a far cry from Canada's "Tommy Douglas-care". In Canada there are health providers and those who receive their service. Between these two groups is the Provincial Government (Tax Collector's). Who pay the first group for services rendered. The Obama-care forces everyone to buy Health Insurance from Obama's friends, White Collar Supremacist Insurance Brokers When Canadians go to the USA we must buy extra Health Insurance from the same private pack of thieves. For the extra costs incurred by the USA Corporate Welfare Bums. The USA health providers are not one bit better then their Canadian Counterparts. The only thing different is the Hellish cost of the "middle man" good old USA Corporate White Collar Welfare.

Bo Bendtsen
Bo Bendtsen 5pts

in what way does obamacare get in the way of you and your doctor? nothing stops you from just paying out of pocket. nothing.

CMcD 5pts

When your doctor has decided to take an early retirement because of Obamacare... money doesn't seem to matter after that

Vince Rossi
Vince Rossi 5pts

I'm against anyone trying to get between myself and my doctor. My body, my rights. If I *chose* a voluntary exchange with a doctor, for whatever reason or whatever cost, who are you, the "insurance company, or government to tell us "no"? The only reason we don't have cheaper medical costs is because of insurance companies and government regulations. Rather than health insurance I would put money into an account that would cover most expenses. Hell, right now you can fly to India and get open heart surgery for a pittance compared to what you would pay in the states and this would include the round trip flight and stay to recover. You would just have to pay up front.

Aidan Haggerty
Aidan Haggerty 5pts

Obamacare is a mess. Day one of Obamacare was pathetic. I don't expect any improvement anytime soon.

Lance Hoyl
Lance Hoyl 5pts

Stock no ws who is driving o cair

Cynthia Blevins
Cynthia Blevins 5pts

yeah from the high cost duh dont take a rocket sciencetist to figure out why

Bo Bendtsen
Bo Bendtsen 5pts

so you're against obamacare and against insurance companies and against a single payer system. don't you see that all your positions contradict? what exactly do you propose for a healthcare insurance system?

John Durr
John Durr 5pts

Problem is they will all go away when Obamacare fails and we get a single payer government system. Progressive socialist/communists are on track. We are doomed.

George Mcfarlin
George Mcfarlin 5pts

"Happy Days are here Again"....but will they last when you hand your industry over to the control of the Federal Government?

James L. Taylor
James L. Taylor 5pts

Insurance is the biggest SCAM that has ever been invented. No insurance company loses money, The government WINS, the insurance com. WINS, the medical profession WINS, You the taxpayer will LOSE everytime.

Alan Lashway
Alan Lashway 5pts

this is why President Obama wanted a single payer health plan but the conservatives wouldn't buy a hefty chunk of your healthcare costs still go into the pockets of the insurance companies who do nothing at all for your health.....

Eric Robinson
Eric Robinson 5pts

They should live-it-up while they can, because Obamacare will destroy the private insurance industry in the end.

Charles Edward Pasley
Charles Edward Pasley 5pts

Of course the health insurance companies are the biggest winners. Why do you think they supported the enactment of Obamacare so strongly?

Matt Haag
Matt Haag 5pts

And my response is a resounding "no shit"

Louis C Carl
Louis C Carl 5pts

Thought for all you single payer people out there. Spent decades watching CEOs tearing their hair out trying to cope with health insurance. It is a major expense and most enterprises have to keep people on the payroll managing it. Single payer passes the cost on to the health care consumers. – Go to any country with single payer, Canada will do fine, and everything is taxed big time, gas, beer, entertainment, and especially income. Strikes me that the biggest beneficiary of single payer will be business. If I was trying to sell single payer I would do it by promoting how it will make the US internationally competitive.

Matt Haag
Matt Haag 5pts

Point of advice, John: don't drink the bong water. Insurance companies have deep pockets and make more campaign contributions than any other group. They WROTE the ACA. Do people pay less? Sure. But that insurance is heavily subsidized. So, there not hurting themselves. Face it, you've been swindled and your beloved democrats sold you out. I mean, this idea was pioneered by Mitt Romney.

Louis C Carl
Louis C Carl 5pts

Yup, there are no more honest socialists, in the US anyway, we are stuck with authoritarian statists. - The odd thing is that the socialists in Europe learn from their mistakes, adjust, tighten, privatize, . . Our lame statists just throw more money into failing enterprises. .

Billie Lail
Billie Lail 5pts

Obamacare has penalties for nonprofit hospitals that provide free care to the poor, but creates opportunities for the rich to become richer. Yep, it's all about affordable health care, right?

Mary Schade
Mary Schade 5pts

Ben Stockton, it should be a Choice. Its the Individual Mandate that is my issue and how it is not helping. Terence has the right idea. And redistribution just makes everyone equally poor. Except the government and those in its pocket.

Ken Pederson
Ken Pederson 5pts

It is and will continue to fail ... 25 years in employee benefits taught me these basic principals ...

Julio Altamiranda Bayard
Julio Altamiranda Bayard 5pts

Look at private equity stocks (romneys game) some stocks are up 100% you people need to stop wasting all your money on canned food, bullets and truck parts and pick up some stocks. Get with the program...

Julio Altamiranda Bayard
Julio Altamiranda Bayard 5pts

i just find it ironic everyone on this blog calls this guy a socialist when hes far from it and far worse. Not that any of them even know what that word means.

Hunter Strickland
Hunter Strickland 5pts

I'm not sure that's the case or was even a plan...What would be the point, as the Tea Party is against both? Misleading either way would be completely inconsequential.

Terence Bell
Terence Bell 5pts

If a Romney did this the leftwing media would be on top of this. But of course ACA was not about affordability it was all about monopolies for cronies and price controls

Julio Altamiranda Bayard
Julio Altamiranda Bayard 5pts

BINGO!! Obama has convinced all you idiot tea party members hes a socialist hahaha. Viva le big business.

Daniel Stoner
Daniel Stoner 5pts

Benjamin, that may be the dumbest thing ever uttered in the history of the internet. "they don't want poor people to have access to medical care, period." How are the 1%ers going to exploit the poor without good healthy workers, working for them - since surely you believe that the system is largely exploitive, correct? You just proved Lonnie's point about the nonsensical nature of the criticisms of anyone who criticizes the PPACA.

Lonnie Fowler
Lonnie Fowler 5pts

With all due respect, to surmise that 90% of all opposed to Obamacare don't want poor people to have access to healthcare (and the other claims you make) is quite an assumption. It seems that assigning an arbitrary percentage to something that would be nearly impossible to back up with any data isn't going to facilitate a discussion. I appreciate your openness with your support of a single payer system, but to view an overwhelming majority of those against this law as awful and heartless as you ascribe above seems, at the very least, closed-minded. I recommend having a conversation over coffee or the like with somebody that espouses a different worldview sometime. (face to face human interaction usually makes us all more civil) Both of you may learn something. If you don't know any decent human beings that have different political views, I suggest opening your world a little bit. There are thoughtful people that want a free and fair system on all sides of this issue. But in the meantime, hurling unquantifiable conjecture over cyberspace will do little for anybody.

Tequila Mockingbird
Tequila Mockingbird 5pts

I support a true Single Payer system.. but if they can't even accept ACA, there is no way we will ever get universal..

Bo Bendtsen
Bo Bendtsen 5pts

like i said, you're against government control and corporate control. and you offer no solution to the healthcare system.

Benjamin Stockton
Benjamin Stockton 5pts

Actually, I'd love anything that brought about single-payer. We spend way too much on healthcare and get too little.

Benjamin Stockton
Benjamin Stockton 5pts

The problem is that most people who rail against Obamacare do so because they don't want poor people to have access to medical care, period. They have no alternate plan. They don't even acknowledge there's a problem. If it doesn't affect people outside the yacht club, it doesn't matter and it's not a problem worthy of consideration. There are exceptions, of course, but I think this holds true for 90% of folks railing against Obamacare. (Full disclosure: I support a true single-payer system.)

Mike 5pts

@Benjamin Stockton So you think anyone opposed to Obamacare  doesn't want poor people to have access to medical care? Man, talk about having your head up your ass. LOL! What an idiot.

" (Full disclosure: I support a true single-payer system.)"

 That answers my question. Shithead blind socialist who thinks anyone who doesn't worship government is some form of "I hate the poor club". Stupid is as stupid does.

Bo Bendtsen
Bo Bendtsen 5pts

i don't think you have a solid idea of what you support. you're against corporations, but you're also against the government. so maybe you just want there not to be healthcare at all.