Health insurance stocks are climbing in early trading as investors react to the news that Democrats’ health care bill cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate. The bill would force all individuals to purchase insurance, and would offer hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to help some of them do so. At the same time, the bill does not include a “public option” that would have been able to use government bargaining power to help drive them out of business.
Morgan Stanley’s index of health insurance stocks is up nearly 4 percent as I write, and this morning it reached its highest level in 18 months (see chart). The index is up 14 percent since December 4.
As for the insurers that comprise the index, here’s how some of them have performed today:
Aetna is up 5 percent
Cigna is up 6 percent
Humana is up 4 percent
UnitedHealth is up 5 percent
Wellpoint is up 4 percent
(Full list here).