HEALTH PLANS: Goldman analyst reads THCB, BusinessWord

OK the headline is bogus, but sometimes I should believe myself. Not too long ago I posted about health insurance and in the middle of that post I wrote this:

    How do health plans make their money?. …..it helps if you are at the top of the underwriting cycle. Sadly for plans we are now somewhere near the top. At least HSC also reports that, in the first half of 2003, health costs only went up 8.3% as opposed to 10% for the last half of 2002. Given that for health plans the last few years have mostly been "cost-plus" actors, there’s slightly less "cost" to "plus" onto.

So my gentle conclusion was the health plan stocks were at the top. Unfortunately I don’t work for Goldman Sachs and so no one noticed. (I know that Don Johnson at The Business Word agrees with me, note what he says about the Wellpoint-Anthem merger, story number 3 in his excellent year end roundup).  However, yesterday (Monday 4th Jan) Matthew Borsch, who does work for Goldman Sachs, figured out that the non-profit Blues were making loads of money and may be pressed to reduce rates next year–a rollback which will create price competition with the for-profit carriers. So the health plan stocks are down heavily, with for example United off 6% and Humana down 7%. And yet again I was too wussy to go short . . . . .

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