Health insurers take ratings hit from Fitch on reform fears

No one's really sure how health reform will impact the health insurance industry. But it seems that as far as the financial sector is concerned, the impact isn't likely to be good. In one striking example of this, Fitch Ratings recently revised its Rating Outlook for six health insurers from Stable to Negative, while leaving six others tagged with Negative rating.

Fitch said that its Negative Outlooks reflect what it sees as the strong potential for healthcare reform scheme to weaken health insurers' financial profile. The Negatives also reflect Fitch's doubts that health plans will be able to cope with rapidly changing pricing schemes and competitive models likely to arise from reform, the ratings agency said.

The six health plans whose Fitch ratings just dropped included Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Idaho Health Service Inc., Coventry Health Care and Health Care Service Corp.

Meanwhile, Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York, Health Net, Healthmarkets Inc., Humana, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint kept their negative Fitch ratings.

To learn more about Fitch's ratings:
- read this Health Leader Media piece

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