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Analyst estimates insurer exchange plan losses

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A securities analyst at Goldman Sachs is predicting that publicly traded insurers’ losses on coverage they sell through the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchanges will be modest.

The analyst, Matthew Borsch, said in a research note that he expects the insurers to report a total of less than $100 million in losses before taxes next year on exchange plans.

That could amount to less than 1 percent of the companies’ $23 billion in total estimated pretax earnings.

“Our forecast for losses seems prudent given the exchange enrollment difficulties so far,” Borsch wrote.

He expects the problems to be fixed, but he also said the issues add to his expectation that initial enrollment will be lower than expected and skewed toward a higher-risk, costlier-to-insure population.

Borsch said a bigger concern for health insurers will be cuts in funding for Medicare Advantage plans. Insurers will receive less reimbursement next year for these plans due to PPACA-mandated support reductions.

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