CVS Health, Centene lead health insurers lower after 2023 Medicare ratings

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Illustration shows CVS Health logo

(Reuters) -Shares of drugstore operator CVS Health fell as much as 10% and insurer Centene slumped 8%, leading declines in major U.S. health insurers after performance ratings for health insurance plans from a federal government program were released.

CVS’ largest health insurance plan for Medicare recipients received a lower performance rating, the company said on Thursday, leading to more than $11.6 billion being wiped off its market value by 11:30 a.m. ET on Friday.

The company’s shares have fallen more than 13% this year.

Centene, which has fallen more than 10% this year, also lost $3.5 billion of its market value by 11:30 a.m. ET.

Year-over-year declines in Star Ratings were expected due to expiry of the one-time COVID-specific disaster relief program, Oppenheimer analysts said, adding that CVS and Centene were among the biggest decliners.

“CVS will not reduce benefits to offset the impact, meaning the company will fully absorb the 5% margin hit from lost quality bonus payments,” according to J.P. Morgan analysts.

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Health insurers UnitedHealth Group, Cigna Corp, Elevance Health, Alignment Healthcare and Humana Inc also fell between 1% and 3%.

The downward shift in Star Ratings will present sector-wide revenue headwind in 2024, Stephens analysts said, adding that a sharp reduction in Centene and CVS members in 4+ Star plans for 2023 will lead to operational hurdles for both the companies.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)