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Markets respond to news that Medicare patients are returning for care delayed by pandemic

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | June 16, 2023
Business Affairs Insurance
Insurers are seeing medical costs rise as more patients resume care that they put off during the pandemic.
UnitedHealth and other insurers saw their shares drop on June 14, owing the decline to news that more Medicare patients were seeking out care that they had put off during the pandemic, resulting in higher medical costs falling on payors' shoulders.

UnitedHealth’s premarket stock fell over 6% at closing, while Humana’s dropped over 11%, Elevance Health by nearly 7%, and CVS Health by over 7%.

The day before, Tim Noel, CEO of UnitedHealth’s Medicare and retirement business, told attendees at the Goldman Sachs healthcare conference that the company's second quarter saw more seniors seeking out non-urgent care, raising medical care costs, reported Reuters.

"We're seeing that more seniors are just more comfortable accessing services for things that they might have pushed off a bit like knees and hips," he said.

While bad news for the insurance industry, healthcare providers and medical equipment manufacturers saw the opposite effect. HCA Healthcare's and Tenet Healthcare's shares rose more than 2%, and manufacturers Stryker and Boston Scientific also saw over 2% gains, according to NASDAQ.

UnitedHealth previously said in April that certain healthcare services were nearing pre-pandemic levels, such as physician office visits.

In May, the World Health Organization released a survey that showed significantly fewer disruptions to services than in previous years, enabling partial signs of recovery, including in care for elderly people.

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