As the clock ticks down to the Affordable Care Act’s March 31 deadline, some healthcare stocks are poised to deliver gains, despite lower-than-expected enrollments in President Obama’s signature health insurance exchanges.
With less than two weeks to go until the Obamacare mandatory health insurance enrollment deadline for 2014 hits, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week said that more than 5 million people have signed up for new coverage in federal or state health insurance marketplaces so far. Although that was positive news, it’s a far cry from the 7 million initial subscribers expected under the Affordable Care Act.
Health insurers, who would use the Affordable Care Act exchanges to compete for some 30 million new customers, were supposed to be big winners. But it hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. In theory, adding millions of younger, healthier individuals to the insurance pool balances the added costs of older individuals with pre-existing conditions. But in practice, 34% of uninsured Americans plan to remain so this year, according to Bankrate’s most recent Health Insurance Pulse survey.
What’s worse: HHS is eying far tougher regulations next year against health plans with narrow provider networks. That means healthcare stocks like Humana (HUM), Cigna (CI), Aetna (AET) and WellPoint (WLP), which have gained more than 50% in the past year, could face headwinds as they try to expand provider networks while keeping premiums low.
Although big insurers may retreat in the near term, here are three healthcare stocks still poised to win big from the Affordable Care Act: