Posted on Aug 11, 2015 by Travis Jones
Hi! I’m Danielle Cotton and I’m here to deliver you the Prime Times for August!
Merger Leads to Reduced Competition in the U.S.
A proposed merger between two top 5 U.S. insurers - Anthem and Cigna - may lead to the creation of the country’s largest insurance company, with a total membership of over 53 million people. The 48 billion dollar deal, which is likely to take at least a year to close, may make good business sense for the parties involved, but it is not without its detractors.
In the wake of the Affordable Care Act in the U.S., large insurers have rushed to merge in order to have more bargaining power with regards to setting rates when negotiating with the government. This has brought such mergers under close scrutiny by regulators, who are incentivized to make sure that premiums are low, and that competition in the health insurance sector is healthy.
This scrutiny has led to investors in Anthem and Cigna to worry, as perceived risk surrounding the merger’s outcome has seen stock price falls in both companies adding up to over 1 billion dollars in value in the few days following the merger announcement. Likewise, Aetna’s stock has fallen by more than 10% since it announced plans to buy another large us-based insurer - Humana.
Will any of these mergers succeed in the end? At this point we just have to say, “Wait and see.”
Young People and Health Insurance
A small study in the Journal of Adolescent Health has reported on attitudes regarding health insurance among so called ‘young people’, which in this case is actually people aged 19 to 30 years old in the United States.
The reportedly “highly educated” group shared their thoughts after shopping for health insurance via HealthCare.gov. Interesting results of the study include that many participants exhibited poor health insurance literacy, with 78% unable to define coinsurance correctly, and 48% unable to correctly define deductible.
Other findings were that the biggest detractor from purchasing insurance was its cost, which, in their minds, far outweighed the biggest benefits, which were access to preventive or primary care, and peace of mind.
The study shows that younger adults may take for granted their health, and focus on short term costs more than potential losses associated with medical care, and that their general health insurance knowledge leaves a lot to be desired.
This also shows the benefit of utilizing a 3rd party insurance agent to help younger buyers understand the ins and outs of purchasing health insurance. Pacific Prime comes to mind!
Malaria Vaccine Clears Major Hurdle
Our last story is one that should come as good news for everybody. The European Medicines Agency has given their final approval for a new Malaria vaccine that could have a large impact on the global prevalence of the disease, which the World Health Organization estimates is currently responsible for the death of a child every minute.
Over 584,000 people died of Malaria in 2013 alone. This terrible disease, which is primarily spread through mosquito bites, is most common in areas such as Central Africa, India, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries with wet climates where mosquito populations flourish and virtually everyone is at risk.
Now, the GSK vaccine ‘Mosquirix’ has the necessary approvals to account for its quality and safety and is merely waiting for the WHO to offer a recommendation on how it is to be spread across the globe, if at all, to those that need it most.
While the vaccine only promises partial protection against Malaria, in trials it has been shown to reduce severe malaria by 36% and clinical malaria by 46%, and has proved especially beneficial to children aged 5 to 17 months.
The vaccine could definitely save a lot of lives. Here’s hoping that it gets to where it’s neediest most soon!