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Portfolio > Economy & Markets > Stocks

Health insurer stocks fall on exchange glitches

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Shares of health insurers fell Friday after a newspaper report said that technology glitches at the new federal health-insurance exchanges are even worse than first thought.

Technology glitches have frustrated consumers since the exchanges launched in early October, as part of the nation’s health care overhaul. People have had trouble trying to sign up for coverage online, and efforts to upgrade and repair the websites are ongoing.

The Wall Street Journal said in Friday’s editions that the companies are having trouble processing applications for people who have tried to sign up. The newspaper said that among the errors reported by insurers include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children and missing data fields.

In afternoon trading Friday, shares of Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) fell $1.57, or 2.5 percent, to $62.61. Cigna Corp. (NYSE:CI) shares fell $2.76, or 3.6 percent, to $74.72. UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) fell 2.23, or 3.1 percent, to $69.14. WellPoint Inc. (NYSE:WLP) fell $2.67, or 3 percent, to $85.92. Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) dropped $1.82, or 2 percent, to $92.03.

Investors dinged all of the big publicly traded insurers even though WellPoint and UnitedHealth are the only ones with a significant presence on t he Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange system in 2014. 

Some are speculating that talk at UnitedHealth about challenges in the Medicare Advantage market could be affecting health stocks.

Allison Bell contributed information to this report.

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