Some health system executives are citing booming insurer stock prices as a clear market signal that consolidation will give payers the upper hand in future price negotiations with hospitals and other providers. Cigna Corp. stock is up 57% this year in the wake of Anthem's bid. Anthem's stock is up nearly 30%, too.
But how does that make them any different than stocks in the hospital sector? Investor-owned hospital-chain stocks have risen smartly this year.
Nashville-based HCA is up 27.4% since the beginning of the year, for instance, while King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services is up 29.7%. The Modern Healthcare Stock Price Index, which tracks nine publicly-traded provider stocks is up 26.3% since Jan. 5 of this year.
Moral of the story: For investors, it's been a good year to be in healthcare stocks, whether payer or provider.