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Health insurance growth outlook 'stable' for 2015, Fitch Ratings report says

Profit margins should grow 7 to 8 percent next year

U.S. health insurers can expect solid margins and return on capital next year, Fitch Ratings announced.

The firm expects operating profit margins for employer plan sponsored membership to experience growth in the to 7 to 8 percent range in 2015. This prediction is in line with a recent Standard and Poor's analysis, which said the insurance industry's credit quality will remain strong and is good news for payers in an increasingly consumer-focused industry.

Fitch also said it's "unlikely" that the Affordable Care Act will see "major structural changes" in the next 12 to 24 months. Because President Barack Obama maintains his veto power, a full repeal of the ACA is unlikely; as a result, the courts, and not a Republican-controlled Congress, will decide if the ACA gets dismantled, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

General opposition to the ACA "is likely to decline over time," Fitch said. That's good news for the insurance industry. The most recent quarterly earnings reports from Aetna, UnitedHealth and Anthem (formerly WellPoint) suggest that business is growing, with the major insurers adding customers both through the state and federal health insurance exchanges and through Medicaid expansion.

In a separate statement, Fitch said the insurance broker market should be stable in 2015. Brokers have taken on a new role under healthcare reform, helping both individuals and businesses navigate the insurance exchanges. Ratings changes are unlikely for the next 12 to 18 months, Fitch added.

For more:
- read the Fitch statements on insurers and brokers

Related Articles:
Aetna, UnitedHealth, WellPoint earnings: Business is growing
Good news for payers in a consumer-focused industry
Earnings reports from insurers, hospitals send conflicting messages
Brokers take on new role as reform navigator