NU Online News Service, Apr. 16, 2:20 p.m. – Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, New York, has released a report on U.S. health care insurance that predicts its ratings of companies in the industry will remain stable in 2003. S&P cites the industry’s ability to keep premium rates up as one of the main reasons for its optimistic forecast.

Health care carriers will continue to benefit from reduced competition in their industry as well as the ability of employers to minimize the impact of higher health care costs on themselves by passing higher premiums on their employees. Moreover, S&P says, the absence of profitable opportunity in government-funded health programs, notably Medicare, will help the companies hold the line on price.