Wonkblog‘s Sarah Kliff notes that health insurers, when speaking to investors, are much more positive about their prospects under Obamacare than you might think reading the policy complaints of their allies on the Web. But some of what they’re saying seems, on closer inspection, to be less than a ringing endorsement. For example:
“Wayne DeVeydt, chief financial officer of Wellpoint, the country’s second-largest health insurer, said that they have seen higher enrollment among sicker patients — but that the health plan expected that type of trend in its first year.
‘Things aren’t necessarily way out of whack with our expectations,” he says. “It’s not about whether or not you’re getting a sicker book. It’s whether you priced for it.’” [E.A.]
Things aren’t necessarily … way … out of whack! I don’t know about you, but in my dictionary of corporate doublespeak this translates roughly into, “Things are out of whack.” Couple that with the context — the insurers still hope Obamacare will work, they’re not going to tell their stockholders “Hey, it looks bad. Sell!” — and you have a statement the epistemological value of which approaches zero. …
Update: Kilff has posted a longer interview with Wellpoint’s CEO. It’s not that optimistic either! Asked “Do you see your exchange participation changing at all in 2015?,” CEO Joe Swedish is noncommittal. This was the time for a stirring declaration — “We are in these exchanges to stay. We aren’t going to bail. We plan to enter more!” Instead, Swedish says. “A lot depends on enrollment …. ”
Note also that a good deal of his reassurance to investors is reassurance that Obamacare’s exchanges are only a small part of his business.