Zacks.com featured highlights: Tailored Brands, Best Buy, Anthem, Aegean Marine Petroleum Network and Tesoro
Zacks.com featured highlights: Tailored Brands, Best Buy, Anthem, Aegean Marine Petroleum Network and Tesoro
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We are not Europe. We are not Canada. We are America. This is not a single pay country. (1) This has been the uncompromising view of Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who as chairman of the key Senate Finance Committee in 2008 and 2009 played a leading role in shaping the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As described in my 2010 book, Hijacked: The Road to Single Payer in the Aftermath of Stolen Health Care Reform, he and his committee kept a single-payer option off the table, and even called the police to arrest eight activists who showed up for a hearing before his committee on health care options. (2) Elizabeth Fowler, a former health insurance industry insider as vice president for public policy for WellPoint, was the lead author of the Senate Finance Committee bill that made sure that the industry would be well served by the legislation. (3) Conservative politicians, including both Republicans and many Democrats, have long been wary of a single-payer public financing system for national health insurance (NHI). They go out of their way to denigrate the Canadian system, even though it is extremely popular in Canada since its enactment in the 1970s, is tied to a private delivery system, and is more efficient and less bureaucratic with better outcomes than our far more expensive system. They tell us that a public financing system would be un-American and antithetical to American values, while overlooking the strengths of traditional Medicare and the Veterans Administration. Their opposition to NHI, of course, is enabled and perpetuated by extensive lobbying and campaign donations by the insurance industry. These erroneous assertions by conservatives about public opinion concerning health care financing are entirely discredited by national polls over many years, virtually ignored by the mainstream media. Three of four Americans supported NHI during the 1940s (4) Since then, a majority of respondents to many national surveys have supported NHI. A 2009 CBS/New York Times poll found that 59 percent of respondents supported NHI. (5) A 2015 Gallup poll found that satisfaction of enrollees is highest in publicly financed health insurance programs (78 percent for the VA, 77 percent for traditional Medicare, and 75 percent for Medicaid), compared to 69 percent for employer-sponsored private coverage and 65 percent for individually purchased private plans. (6) After seven years with the Romney health care reform plan in Massachusetts, upon which the ACA was based, 72 percent of respondents to a survey prefer NHI to that plan. (7) A 2015 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 84 percent of respondents support Medicare negotiating discounted prices for prescription drugs. (8) The U. S. society is in the midst of major political, demographic and cultural change. Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, historian, philosopher and political activist, brings us this perspective of these changes: There can be no denying that the United States is undergoing a serious ideological and political realignment due to its rapid transformation into a society characterized by an immense gap between rich and poor, unprecedented economic insecurity and growing poverty, the abandonment of public investments in public infrastructure and an overall decline in the standard of living.. . . The [November 2016] elections are quite significant, whatever the outcome, in revealing the growing discontent and anger about the impact of neoliberal programs of the past generation, which, as elsewhere quite generally, have had a harsh impact on the mass of the population while undermining functioning democracy and enriching and empowering a tiny minority, largely in financial industries that have a dubious, if not harmful, role in the economy. . . . The tendencies have been clear for some time, but, in this election, the party establishments have lost control for the first time. . . . It is rather striking, for example, to see how easily the Democratic Party almost openly abandons the white working class, which drifts into the hands of their most bitter enemy, the leadership and power base of the Republican Party. (9) Health care is primarily not a left-right issue, as a December 2015 national Kaiser public opinion poll found--58 percent of adults in the U. S. supported NHI (Medicare for All), including 81 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 30 percent of Republicans. (10) Since we all depend on access to affordable health care on many occasions, it should not be a partisan issue. Having a large risk pool--all 320 million of us--will benefit the common good most effectively and at lowest cost to us as patients and taxpayers. All of us will need affordable access to care at various points along our journeys in life. Instead of a left-right issue, health care reform has become a top-down issue--corporate profits and oligarchy vs. democracy and the public interest. So far, democracy is losing, and the pendulum will have to swing back to best meet the needs of all Americans. Robert Reich, professor of public policy at the University of California Berkeley who was secretary of labor in the Bill Clinton administration and served in two previous administrations, sums up our current choice for the future of health care this way: The real choice in the future is either a hugely expensive for-profit oligopoly with the market power to charge high prices even to healthy people and stop insuring sick people. Or else a government-run single-payer system--such as in place in almost every other advanced economy--dedicated to lower premiums and better care for everyone. We're going to have to choose eventually. (11) John Geyman, M.D. is the author of The Human Face of ObamaCare: Promises vs. Reality and What Comes Next and How Obamacare is Unsustainable: Why We Need a Single-Payer Solution For All Americans visit: http://www.johngeymanmd.org References: 1. Baucus, M. As quoted in an interview with Karen Tumulty from Time Magazine in a Health Care Reform Newsmaker Series, March 3, 2009. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2. Robbins, K. Baucus 8 update: Single payer in the news. Healthcare-NOW! May 7, 2009. 3. Conner, K. Chief health aide to Baucus is former WellPoint executive. Eyes on the Ties Blog, September 1, 2009. 4. Steinmo, S, Watts, J. It's the institutions, stupid! Why comprehensive national health insurance always fails in America. J Health Politics, Policy and Law 20: 329, 1995. 5. Public opinion polling on single payer: Americans (still) support it! Everybody In! Healthcare NOW!'s Quarterly Newsletter on the Single-Payer Healthcare Justice Movement, 10, Spring 2016. 6. Saluja, J, Zallman, L, Nardin, R et al. Support for National Health Insurance seven years into Massachusetts healthcare reform: Views on populations targeted by the reform. Intl J Health Services. OnlineFirst--November 3, 2015. 7. Gumpert, K. Americans want Medicare to help negotiate down drug prices--poll. Reuters, July 17, 2015. 8. Polychroniou, CJ. Is the U. S. ready for socialism? An interview with Noam Chomsky. Truth-out, May 18, 2016. 9. Ibid # 6. 10. Reich, R. Why a single-payer healthcare system is inevitable. Common Dreams, August 22, 2016. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
This Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 photo shows the Anthem logo at the company's corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. Formerly known as WellPoint, the nation's second-largest health insurer changed its corporate name to Anthem to reflect a label familiar to consumers shopping for coverage. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) A massive experiment in California is [...]
WASHINGTON ― When celebrities, high-level party operatives and the blue blazer-and-khaki crowd of staffers and journalists join together for the highly publicized Snoop Dogg concert immediately following presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, they’ll be doing so thanks to funding from two of the biggest lobbying forces in Washington. Through a fundraising committee called Unity Convention 2016, three super PACs are organizing the Snoop Dogg Unity event and a concert with the band Los Lobos. So far, the two biggest donors for the events are the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the lobbying arm of the drug industry, and Anthem, Inc., a major health insurer. PhRMA and Anthem each contributed $50,000 to the committee, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission. Unity Convention 2016 raises money for Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing Clinton’s presidential campaign; Senate Majority PAC, which supports Democratic Senate candidates and is closely tied to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid; and House Majority PAC, which is close to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and is tasked with electing Democrats to the House. Each of these super PACs contributed $10,000 to help cover the cost of their convention events. PhRMA and Anthem are major lobbying forces in Washington with significant policy interests that will arise in the next administration and Congress. PhRMA and Blue Cross Blue Shield, of which Anthem is a member, are perennially two of the top 10 lobbying groups that spend the most, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Super PACs and dark money nonprofits are closely connected to donors with important lobbying interests, The Huffington Post has previously reported. PhRMA was the key player in the Washington influence industry to help the Obama administration push the Affordable Care Act through Congress. The lobbying group made a behind-the-scenes agreement to support the legislation as long at it did not include long-standing Democratic Party policies allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors or allow cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada and other countries. A draft of the 2016 Democratic Party platform, however, calls for Medicare to negotiate drug prices and allows for such drug importation. In addition, the platform calls for capping the price of prescription drugs, including how much Americans pay out-of-pocket for drugs, as well as expanding community health centers that can obtain cheaper drugs and increasing how quickly generics reach the market. The draft platform also includes a call for a public health insurance option to be created and offered to people using the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Clinton and President Barack Obama have both recently called for the public option to be adopted. But the public option was a controversial sticking point when Congress debated the legislation. Health insurers ― including Anthem, which was known at the time as WellPoint ― were adamantly opposed to the public option and also fought against the larger bill. In fact, health insurers played along with the Obama administration publicly to influence the legislation while working covertly with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to defeat it. The public option was ultimately left out of the legislation after then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut ― a state that a number of major insurers, including Anthem, call home ― refused to back the bill if it was included. That same draft platform, however, does not include a call for a single-payer health care system. Delegates affiliated with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pushed for a platform committee vote to adopt a government-run health insurance program, essentially Medicare for everyone, but were defeated by delegates connected to Clinton. Nothing scares health insurers more than efforts to replace them with government-provided insurance, as that would essentially put them out of business. Insurers, including Anthem, are currently funding the opposition to a Colorado ballot initiative to create a single-payer system for the state. Insurers have pumped $1 million into a ballot committee called Colorado for Coloradans to oppose Amendment 69, The Intercept reported. Anthem is the largest donor to the opposition, with a $500,000 donation. The Anthem-backed opposition employs a litany of Democratic Party consultants, including one employed by Priorities USA Action. Even more pressing for Anthem, though, is its pending merger with rival insurer Cigna, which comes at a time of increasing consolidation and monopolization across all industries. Democratic senators, including Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, have called for the Department of Justice to block the Anthem-Cigna deal, as well as a merger between Aetna and Humana. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an increasingly influential politician who joined the push for the DOJ to reject the Anthem-Cigna merger, recently called for a new era of antitrust enforcement to prevent the consolidation of economic and political power. And for the first time since the 1980s, the Democratic Party’s platform includes a call to “enhance the antitrust enforcement arms of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, and encourage other agencies to police anticompetitive practices in their areas of jurisdiction.” The Snoop Dogg concert is just one event planned for the week of the Democratic convention. Because a super Pac is funding it, its donors are required to be revealed to the public. There will be dozens more parties and events to fete lawmakers and other officials around Philadelphia that will be funded by undisclosed corporate interests. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Megan McArdle, BloombergHow about a little health-care quiz to spice up your afternoon? Here are two quotes about the Obamacare exchanges, from two health insurer investor calls. Match each to the right company. 1. “We continue to expect exchanges to develop and mature over time into a strong, viable growth market for us.” A. Aetna B. UnitedHealth C. Wellpoint D. Cigna 2. “We cannot sustain these losses. We can't really subsidize a marketplace that doesn't appear at the moment to be sustaining itself” A. Aetna B. UnitedHealth C. Wellpoint D. Cigna Pencils down!
Anthem beats on earnings. Our consensus called for EPS of $2.33, and the company reported EPS of $2.73.
The rise of the Millennials over the Baby Boomers has the potential to alter the economy as a whole.
Rewards for healthy behaviors have been growing at leaps and bounds as a way to reduce healthcare costs for several years. Rewards for healthy behaviors have been growing at leaps and bounds as a way to reduce healthcare costs for several years. In 2009, employers offered employees $260 in rewards for making healthy choices. Now, companies are projecting to spend $693 per employee on wellness incentives. ObamaCare added fuel to the fire. It increased the allowable amount of rewards from 20 to 30 (and in the case of smoking cessation) 50 percent of annual insurance premium. Forbes named "health rewards" as two of the top 5 health IT trends in 2014. "Incentive Driven Healthcare" is here to stay. Why don't health plans want consumers to know this? It seems like a win-win. Well in some ways they do. Health plans win by reducing costly behavior through prevention and lifestyle changes. Consumers benefit not only by getting healthier and making better health decisions, but by receiving rewards. This is all true. But in some ways they don't. Once consumers truly realize that purchasing health insurance, while incredibly personal, is nothing more than purchasing another consumer product, the healthcare marketers of the world will be faced with a health rewards competition. ObamaCare created "exchanges" or "marketplaces" through which health insurers compete for the business of individuals and businesses. These marketplaces were established with a series of pre-packaged health plan options, which limit the variations in using traditional levers such as coverage and networks. Health plans that were used to competing on these levers are left with a single lever - price. Selecting from gold, silver and bronze hardly creates differentiation among United, Cigna, Aetna, Humana, Wellpoint, the Blues and many other plans in the United States. Think of your credit card, hotel, airline or favorite retailer. It is a sure fire way to create loyalty, brand affinity and engagement. Let's be honest, you are more inclined to use specific services or retailers if they provide a robust rewards program. When marketers of consumer products ask themselves "what tools do I need to attract, retain, and generate loyal customers?" the answer inevitably comes to reward programs. As further evidence, consumers across multiple demographics were interviewed on what they wanted from their health plan. The only item that appeared in every demographic was "rewards for healthy behavior." Would you have a more positive opinion of your health plan if they sponsored a program that rewards consumers for healthy behaviors? According to a Welltok survey, 75% of respondents agree. Furthermore, 81% said that access to such a program positively influences their decision to renew with their current plan. Not to mention, the fact that incentives are a proven means to motivate health choices and change behaviors. More than 96% of consumers would engage in healthier behaviors if rewarded. Health plans are entering a new competitive landscape. Rewards will not only be an essential component, but will also drive a healthier population - creating a win-win situation for all. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
The flurry of recent merger announcements from the handful of remaining national health insurance providers is cause for alarm for all Americans. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has taken nearly full effect and it is clear that staggering annual increases in health insurance premium costs are still with us. The skyrocketing costs of health insurance and health care treatment are pushing working American families well past the breaking point. There is a limit to what working people can afford to pay for what should be a human right. The most recent corporate advances down the road of health insurance monopolization are the announcements that the enormous Aetna intends to absorb rival Humana, and at the same time the Anthem corporate giant -- formerly Wellpoint -- is maneuvering to swallow Cigna. Should these latest anti-competitive takeover moves go unchallenged by the Obama Justice Department when there is little doubt that the trend of double digit premium increases will accelerate? In many areas of the country today there are frequently only one or two health insurers available when workers try to grapple with the dramatically rising premiums and costs. Their frequently identical plan offerings and prices raise the obvious suspicion that the insurers have fixed prices and rigged market share somehow. And while these latest insurance company combinations and practices will be scrutinized by some states, that level of review is uneven and forced on reluctant state insurance departments ill-equipped to deal with such enormous corporations and their armies of legal and lobbying representatives. Must Confront Corporate Criminality It is urgent that the Obama Administration act swiftly and decisively to confront corporate criminality. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently awoken from its slumber on the antitrust front, and has begun preliminary moves to investigate the obvious price fixing of the major airlines. They are likewise reviewing the sale of the General Electric appliances division to the European Electrolux corporation. But while both of these are cases are critical to the restoration of some semblance of an antitrust enforcement policy, the potential damage to working people from greater monopolization of the key health insurance sector is incalculable. Until the United States Congress finds the political will to abolish our costly and badly broken health insurance industry the monopoly racketeers must at least be confronted and restricted from free rein. A single payer system is urgently needed to solve this catastrophic crisis for working people. Until then it is imperative that the Obama Administration utilize its full DOJ resources to investigate and stop the trend towards complete monopolization in the health insurance industry. This action takes no act of Congress, but merely requires the political leadership to commit the Justice Department to enforce existing laws on an industry that has demonstrated its intention to defy the law and rob working people in the process. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Anthem (ANTM) Beats on Q2 Earnings, Memberships Increase
The combination will push Aetna close to Anthem Inc's (ANTM.N) No.2 insurer spot by membership, and would nearly triple Aetna's Medicare Advantage business. The deal will face antitrust scrutiny but if it goes through it would dwarf the previous largest insurance deal announced just this week, where Swiss property and casualty giant ACE Ltd (ACE.N) announced it was buying Chubb Corp (CB.N) for $28 billion.
Zacks Industry Rank Analysis Highlights: UnitedHealth, Anthem, Aetna, Humana and Cigna - Press Releases
Zacks Industry Rank Analysis Highlights: UnitedHealth, Anthem, Aetna, Humana and Cigna
The new conventional wisdom on corporate structure is that companies can do better by organizing themselves around customer groups. The logic sounds compelling: A customer-centric structure, as the approach is known, can help a company understand its customers better, develop deeper relationships with them, and improve customer satisfaction. Some 30% of Fortune 500 firms, including Intel, Dell, IBM, and American Express, are already on board, and the numbers are growing all the time. But customer alignment doesn’t work for everyone. Cisco and Xerox, for example, have seen poor results. And even when it does work, a company can go through years of poor performance before the benefits kick in. Is there a flaw in the logic? Our analysis of Fortune 500 firms shows that the strengths of the strategy are real: Customer-centricity does allow divisions to focus on specific customer segments, and this narrower focus increases their knowledge of those groups. But it introduces greater complexity into communication and decision making and leads to duplication of certain functions across divisions. Details of the competition and of customer segments determine whether the positives outweigh the negatives, and years can pass before customer-centricity bears fruit. We’ll show how companies can use our findings to estimate whether — and when — a customer-centric structure is likely to work. But first a little background. The idea that companies should adopt customer-centric structures has been around in both academia and practice for a while, but it was George S. Day of Wharton who reignited interest in the concept. In his 2006 survey of U.S. managers, he said the proportion of U.S. firms with structures organized around customers would grow from 32% to 52% as firms raced to build customer-centric organizations, and he interviewed companies including IBM and Systems Group that had announced customer-centric restructurings. He also emphasized in a 1999 book that “the wrong structure can doom all other market-driven initiatives in the organization to failure.” A good example of customer-centricity is Tumi, the innovative U.S.-based maker of suitcases, which has been customer-centric since its founding in 1975. Each division focuses on one customer group — premium customers or young adults, for example — and, through research, designs products for that segment. Surveys commissioned by the company show that it does a good job of satisfying customers by matching their needs. Intel, whose top-level divisions had been organized around product groups or functional areas, adopted customer-centricity in 2005, and its improved knowledge of and commitment to customers has resulted in greater customer satisfaction. Dell, which adopted customer-centricity in 2009, has seen positive results too: After aligning its corporate business units around customer groups, such as large enterprises and consumers, the company learned to operate seamlessly in the new structure and improved its financial performance. Examples like these, as well as the seemingly bulletproof logic of making customers’ needs central, have helped sell customer-centricity to many corporate leaders. And there’s no doubt that a customer-centric structure helps organizations amass rich depositories of customer knowledge and expertise and thereby uncover unmet needs. But our research, conducted with Conor M. Henderson of the University of Oregon and Irina V. Kozlenkova of Michigan State University, tells us that there are situations in which discovering and acting on unmet customer needs either amounts to mere table stakes or contributes little to profitability: Prevalence of customer-centricity and high competitive intensity. When competitors already have customer-centric structures or otherwise do a very good job of meeting customer needs, any one company’s customer-centric structure is less valuable. Customer-centric firms with many customer-centric competitors exhibited 11% lower performance than peer firms with product-centric structures. Moreover, customer-centric firms that operated in highly competitive markets had 69% lower performance, compared with product-centric peers. Low industry profitability. When few customers value greater customization or responsiveness, the headaches of restructuring around customer segments aren’t worth the trouble. Customer-centric firms in less-profitable industries performed 20% lower than firms whose structures were not aligned with customers. Take, for example, two exponents of the customer-alignment philosophy: the for-profit health-care company Anthem and software and services firm SunGard. Anthem implemented a customer-centric structure in 2008 when it was known as WellPoint and when few of its competitors had adopted the approach. It was able to use its new organizational structure to discover and meet new customer needs such as better quality of care, enhanced transparency, and lower health-care costs. Its adoption of customer-centricity yielded a 36% increase in return on assets over the four-year period after the restructuring. The company has maintained and still benefits from its structure, even though some of its competitors have adopted customer-centricity. SunGard’s competitive environment was different. Its competitors, such as Affiliated Computer Services and Leidos Holdings, were already doing a good job of discovering and addressing unmet customer needs. Its 2002 restructuring offered little incremental benefit while adding cost and complexity. Its ROA dropped 81% over the four years after the restructuring. There’s also a gray area in which customer-centricity provides significant advantages while simultaneously dragging down results. Tumi, for example, has recently struggled with the drawbacks of customer-centricity. With each division focusing on only its own customer segment, the structure appears to be poorly suited for generating widespread corporate brand awareness. Customer-centricity appears to be a reason for the company’s high marketing and coordinating costs: Its customer-focused structure has entailed a division of resources, capabilities, and people; raised organizational barriers to sharing and communicating; and led to greater complexity-related costs and losses of economies of scale. These high marketing and coordinating costs may be the cause of its problems today. In cases where customer-centricity is an appropriate structure, we found that it takes more than two years after a restructuring, on average, for companies’ performance to exceed prior levels. During that period, performance typically deteriorates significantly as the firm incurs coordinating costs due to internal conflicts and confusions. Among 37 Fortune 500 firms that went through customer-centric restructurings, the performance drop averaged 39% from companies’ pre-restructuring levels; it was only after 10 quarters that performance exceeded those levels — at which point it exceeded them by 11%, on average. Before initiating adoption of a customer-centric structure, companies should look carefully at the extent to which this approach has permeated the competition. Firms should also gauge the industry’s competitive intensity and take a close look at their industries’ profitability. There are no simple rules of thumb for these assessments — every industry is different — but a predominance of customer-centricity, high competitive intensity, and high commoditization and a prevalence of low margins all suggest that restructuring around customer segments may not pay off. And if executives determine that a customer-oriented restructuring is a good gamble, they should enter into the process with eyes wide open, establishing clear expectations that performance will sag before it rises. In addition, CEOs and functional heads need to talk to each other about proposed changes in organizational structure. Top executives should get guidance from marketing, sales, and R&D before making structural-design decisions, and managers from those functions should weigh in on the harm that could be done by the greater complexity and duplication that are so often a consequence of customer-centricity.
The American health care system is particularly troubling for transgender people, but there are some insurance plans without blanket exclusions. Here are 24.