Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Very Brief Blog: United Healthcare Stock; Private Payers in Richardson et al.

Richardson et al., 2020, is the JAMA paper that made headlines for finding that 88% of COVID patients placed on a respirator in NYC died.

I had the paper out for another purpose today and noted the distribution of payers, included in Table 1.  The distribution was 33% commercial insurance, 21% Medicaid, 42% Medicare, and 4% other.  In other words, about 70% of NYC COVID patients were not on commercial insurance.

I don't want to draw a direct line, but I looked up performance of United Healthcare stock over six months.   It ran around $280 last fall and through January.  It hit a nadir of $195 on March 23.  It's running about $290 today.

Just as hospitals (outside of NYC and a few places) have empty elective operating suites and often two-thirds empty ERs, and just as many non-essential clinics are closed and doctors face serious financial unknowns (here) - all of that missing revenue on the hospital and clinic side represents revenue not migrating out of payers' balance sheets.