Wall Street Analyst Predicts ‘Multiyear Utilization Catchup’ Post-COVID

Since last summer, major health insurers’ reports of unusually high outpatient care utilization have proven to be a thorn in the industry’s side — inflating medical loss ratios and forcing Humana Inc. to significantly downgrade its 2024 earnings outlook. And according to some Wall Street analysts, the trend isn’t likely to go anywhere soon.

With the COVID-19 pandemic winding down, “grandma has been locked in her house for the last three years; she’s ready to go on a cruise and she wants that new hip, she needs that new knee,” Deutsche Bank Managing Director George Hill said during the annual Wall Street Goes to Washington Roundtable on April 8, hosted by the Brookings Institution. That increased demand, he said, “has resulted in a surge in outpatient orthopedic procedures that we’ve seen, particularly among seniors, particularly impacting the Medicare Advantage books of business.”

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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