NU Online News Service, Dec. 13, 3:57 p.m. – Standard & Poor’s Insurance Ratings, New York, says it has a stable outlook for the U.S. life insurance industry in 2002, but a negative outlook for the U.S. health insurance market.

Life insurance companies may continue to have problems with the stocks, bonds and collateralized debt obligations in their investment portfolios, but most have strong capital levels, strong business positions and strong products, the S&P analysts say.

The analysts expect demand for “protection-based” life insurance products to remain strong, in spite of the weak economy.

On the health side, many large, publicly traded managed care companies have been reporting strong profits since the late 1990s.

But rising medical costs and the weak economy could cause serious problems for smaller, debt-ridden plans in the coming year, S&P analysts warn.