Stock buy backs are up for 3 of the major insurers.  The purpose of a stock buy back to increase the value of the stock, since there’s less out there after the fact and basically embellish the officers of the company with a little more money.  Your premiums help finance this action as well as the money has to come from somewhere.  Actually insurers have been doing stock buy backs since the last 80s, before it really became fashionable.  Usually when stock buy backs occur it means that money is not being put into resources of the company to build business.  image

WellPoint announced a couple months ago they are boosting their buy back program by $5 billion which now adds up to a total of $6 billions dollars worth of shares to be bought back.  The buy backs run over a period of years and I don’t know the time frame here.

Aetna added an additional $1 billion in stock buy backs and it had by comparison to WellPoint, a much smaller dollar amount. 

Cigna who’s also not as large has a buy back program I think of around $500 million.

Humana a couple months ago began a $2 billion dollar stock buy back. 

United Healthcare spent $3 billion year to date on stock buy backs and also runs in the Dow Jones Industrial index.  Recently additional shares were added for buy backs and so this brings their entire buy back p back program to $8 billion and they are also providing dividends. 

The cost of insurance has sky rocketed since 2007 and again it depends on where you buy it, exchanges and subsidies and so forth.

Be aware too of the changes in how insurers model polices and the link below will catch you up.  All you need to do is look at the classifieds to see the number of quants in the last couple of years hired  to see the direction they are going.  Actuaries are still used of course but by adding quants to the models the insurers when models are built now get the additional investor profit side from stock which is not normally included in the long term projections of actuaries. 

Data Scientists/Quants in the Health Insurance Business–Modeling Beyond the Speed and Capabilities of Humans To Keep Up With The Affordable Care Act–Turning Into A World of Killer Algorithms That We All Hate..

Think of narrow networks if you will and this is where the quants come in and do their math models and design.  This is why we call it the secret scoring of doctors in the US as no reason is given for why they are kicked out of network, it’s all math and algorithms with United.

“The Secret scoring of America’s Physicians” - Algorithmic Math Models For Insurance Network Contractual Exclusions, Relating to MDs Who See Medicare Advantage Patients..

Sometimes the models change so quickly based on numbers from the quants that the left quant doesn’t know what the right is doing as in the link below where United goes out and wins and bids a Medicare Advantage contract but the doctors had already been fired by another company quant I assume so they had to give up the contract.

Howard County School Board in Maryland Rescinds United Healthcare Contract As Retirees Didn’t Want the Medicare Advantage Plan, No Providers Available..

One other thought to keep in mind is the fact that most insurers have some office site subsidiaries too and exactly how they use them I don’t know, but we know why they exist.  I looked up the one in the Caymans for United and couldn’t even find one officer listed for the company. 

Take a look at the image here in this post and look at the number of administrators compared to the number of doctors and that will give you a big hint why healthcare is so expensive.  These are both hospital and insurer administrators.  Look how many bosses doctors have today. 

So again the constant complexities of insurers is not going to change any time soon and there will be even more disruptions and constant changes  as now they have the investor information built in to the policy models. 

In addition insurance companies make a lot of money selling data a well and the action usually takes place in subsidiary companies.  I can’t even keep track of all the subs that United/Optum has in addition to owning the biggest hospital/healthcare system in Brazil.  They have also said they are looking to buy more health care systems outside the US.  In the UK though, they are not happy with United as the link below has a documentary about the NHS not being happy with being taken over by US companies.

The Take Over and Sell Off of the NHS–By Companies from the United States, United Healthcare and Others - A Documentary

So again while you face higher deductibles and struggle to meet those high out of pocket levels before your insurance kicks in, this is what’s going on with the other side of their business, the stock and profit making happens here.  BD


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