Humana foresees long-term health exchange opportunities

The federal health insurance exchange factors largely into Humana's future plans, according to its third-quarter earnings report. Humana execs said they expect the online marketplaces to present opportunities, but those opportunities won't emerge for a few years.

"We believe long term, the potential size of exchanges is significant opportunity for Humana, as it is aligned with our core capabilities in chronic care management, including accurate clinical documentation, effective networks and retail individual sales," CEO Bruce Broussard told investors on a conference call, reported Business First.

But Broussard doesn't think Humana will see returns on the exchanges until 2015, when a diverse mix of enrollees will offset the company's financial investments in the online marketplaces. Right now, early data shows early exchange enrollment is primarily in Medicaid plans and among older consumers.

What's more, the financial opportunity available through exchanges is "currently being overshadowed by the issues with the federal enrollment process," Broussard said. Already, Humana has halved the number of people it expects to enroll through the exchanges from 500,000 to about 250,000 new members because of technical problems with the federal HealthCare.gov website.

Other Humana execs added they expect the Obama administration to extend the enrollment period for consumers to sign up for exchange plans, Kaiser Health News reported.

"We're waiting for guidance from the government around whether they are going to change mandates and whether they are going to do things to extend the enrollment period," Humana Chief Operating Officer Jim Murray said on the investor call, Reuters reported. "Given where we're at today, our assumption is that there will be an extension to the open enrollment period."

To learn more:
- read the Business First article
- see the Kaiser Health News article
- check out the Reuters article

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