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eHealth stock performance after pivoting to Medicare Advantage

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One of the most successful stocks on the market is eHealth, a company that helps connect people — especially seniors — with health insurance plans.

As of September 10, eHealth was up 162% over the past 12 months, the 2nd biggest gain among all the stocks in the S&P 1500 index, which includes most of the US stock market. The stock trades at $72.14.

Driving the growth over the last few years has been CEO Scott Flanders’ decision to focus the company on the booming market for private health insurance plans for seniors, known as Medicare Advantage, after stumbles selling individual health insurance plans to younger people. EHealth makes a commission over the lifetime of $983 for a Medicare Advantage member the company signs up through its platform as of the second quarter of 2019. That’s roughly six times the $167 the company makes over the lifetime of selling a individual health plan to a member.

“They saw the opportunity there, and they started focusing more on Medicare Advantage,” Credit Suisse analyst Jailendra Singh told Business Insider. Singh has an outperform rating on eHealth.

The company’s been growing its revenue quickly. This year, eHealth expects its total revenue to be between $365 million and $385 million. That’s up 50% at the midway point from the $251 million in revenue the company made in 2018. The company has plans to hit $1 billion in revenues by 2023, as the US population ages and more seniors sign up for private Medicare Advantage plans.

eHealth CEO Scott Flanders
Courtesy eHealth

A changing online insurance business

The company got its start more than two decades ago in 1997, founded by a Stanford graduate with the idea of bringing health insurance online.

The business had been chugging along, getting a sizeable chunk of the individual market. eHealth went public in 2006, and at its peak in 2014 had about 800,000 members signed on, Flanders said.

But in 2010, the Affordable Care Act threw a wrench in eHealth plans. The health law created new federal and state-run markets for health insurance plans, taking away much of eHealth’s business. Health insurance sales under the ACA began in 2013.

Just 29,698 people used eHealth to buy individual health insurance plans by the end of 2018.

In 2016, eHealth’s board hired on Scott Flanders to start turning things around. Flanders had served as a board member since 2008, and prior to joining eHealth, he had been CEO of Playboy Enterprises, the media and lifestyle group that publishes Playboy magazine. He previously led a media company, and worked in the music and video distribution business.

Stepping into the job, Flanders faced a big challenges: he had to get a grasp on the healthcare industry, months before the 2016 presidential election.

“I never remember being less certain on my feet than having stepped into this,” Flanders said. Getting an understanding of how all the pieces are connected and what each group’s agenda was a challenge, he said.

Stepping into the role, Flanders doubled down on a growing area for the company, the Medicare Advantage market.

That strategy is paying off. Since Flanders was announced as CEO on May 31, 2016, eHealth’s stock is up 422%, and the company now has a market value of $1.8 billion. The S&P 1500 index has gained 41.3% over the same time period.

The market for Medicare Advantage plans is competitive. About a third of people on Medicare are enrolled in private Medicare Advantage health plans.

People can typically choose to enroll in Traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans when they turn 65. Either way, their health needs are largely funded by the US government.

As of last year, more than 20 million Americans were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. It’s a growing market that insurers from startups like Oscar Health, Clover Health, Devoted Health, and Bright Health are interested in getting a piece of, alongside entrenched rivals like Humana, UnitedHealth Group, and CVS Health are in.

How eHealth has picked up a piece of the growing Medicare Advantage market

As the competition among insurers to sign on more Medicare Advantage members heats up, insurers turn to brokers including organizations like eHealth to get their plans in front of more people.

“We help reach seniors that the carriers aren’t reaching with their own traditional marketing efforts,” Flanders said. Humana and UnitedHealthcare make up a combined 40% of eHealth’s revenue as of 2018, while Aetna made up 14%, according to eHealth’s annual report.

So far, Flanders said, eHealth has its hand on about 1% of the Medicare Advantage brokering market. Roughly 80% of the deals today happen via phone, with the remaining 20% picking plans through eHealth’s website. eHealth had signed up 521,000 Medicare Advantage members as of June 2019.

The stock has turned down over the past month, amid worries that support is growing among Democrats for a national health-insurance plan known as ‘Medicare for All,’ according to analysts at Evercore ISI. They also said that CMS is working on updates to its “Medicare Plan Finder” tool that could take some business from eHealth.

For eHealth, the hope is to keep growing as more Americans turn 65 and opt for the private part of Medicare Advantage. As such, eHealth has plans to get to a $1 billion in revenue by 2023, nearly four times what the company made in revenue in 2018.

Singh said that so far, the past few years’ results suggest eHealth could get there.

“Their results have shown they’re headed in the right direction,” Singh said.



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Victoria’s Secret billionaire may step down from company: WSJ, NYT

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  • Les Wexner, the billionaire businessman behind L Brands, is reportedly “in discussions” to step down as CEO of the company and sell the Victoria’s Secret brand, according to the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
  • Sources familiar with the matter also told The Journal that the company is looking to reach a potential deal in the coming weeks.
  • Wexner founded what is now L Brands in 1963 and is the longest-standing CEO of any Fortune 500 company. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Retail billionaire Les Wexner is reportedly “in discussions” to step down as CEO from L Brands, the company behind Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported.

Sources familiar with the matter told The Journal that Wexner is also considering selling part of, or all of, Victoria’s Secret. 

“The company is looking to reach a decision on the potential deal and succession plans in coming weeks,” Journal reporters Khadeeja Safdar and Corrie Driebusch wrote early Thursday morning, quoting their sources. 

A spokesperson for L Brands declined to comment on this when contacted by Business Insider.  

Wexner founded what is now L Brands in 1963 and is the longest-standing CEO of any Fortune 500 company.

Wexner’s talks of departure comes in light of scrutiny over his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in federal prison in August while facing charges of sexual trafficking of minors.

In the summer of 2019, the company was caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Epstein previously managed the money of L Brands CEO and founder Les Wexner and two were reportedly once close friends.

L Brands’ board of directors hired an outside law firm to review its relationship with Epstein. In September, Wexner addressed his ties to Epstein at L Brands’ investor meeting.

“At some point in your life we are all betrayed by friends,” Wexner said. “Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I’m embarrassed I was even close to. But that is in the past.”

The news of the possible sale of Victoria’s Secret also comes after several years of declining sales and pressure from analysts and shareholders to address concerns over the business.

While Victoria’s Secret is still the largest lingerie retailer in the US, its market share in the US has dropped in recent years and the brand has been accused of losing relevance among shoppers as its oversexualized ads and racy runway shows fail to resonate in the era of #MeToo. 

This came to a head in November, after a Vogue interview with Ed Razek – chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands and one of its longest-standing executives after only Wexner himself – went viral online. Razek told the interviewer that he didn’t think the company’s annual fashion show should feature “transsexuals” because the show is a “fantasy.”

“It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is,” he said in the interview.

His comments sparked an outcry online, which later led to him issuing a formal apology. Razek later stepped down from the company in August.

Lauren Frias contributed to this report.



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Two women drowned after their car rolled off the Fisher Island ferry

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A blue Mercedes-Benz inexplicably rolled off the Fisher Island Ferry on Tuesday at around 5 p.m., killing the two women sitting in the car, according to The Miami Herald.

The two women were identified as socialites Emma Afra, 63, and Viviane Brahms, 75, according to Miami-Dade Police.

The two were taking the private ferry from the exclusive Fisher Island, where Afra was a resident. Brahms was a New York resident.

Fisher Island is a private, man-made island off the coast of Miami known for being the richest ZIP code in the US, where the average income of residents is $2.2 million and the median home value is roughly $2.9 million. About 700 families live on the exclusive island across 30 luxury condominium buildings. The only way to access the island is by private boat or ferry.

The ferry transports people and cars from an outpost near the Coast Guard station in Miami Beach; it crosses over a channel called Government Cut that is 50 feet deep. A typical ferry ride only lasts seven minutes, according to the Fisher Island website. The ferry from which the Mercedes fell is named The Pelican, a 113-foot passenger vessel built in 1981 that had its last inspection on May 2, 2019, according to The Miami Herald.

It is currently unknown how the car fell into the water; the Coast Guard and the Miami-Dade Police Department are investigating the situation. An eyewitness described the ferry to The Miami Herald as open in both the front and the back, lined only with a chain to keep cars and passengers on the boat. 

The Fisher Island Community Association is cooperating with investigations, according to a statement made by president and CEO Roberto Sosa. “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the tragic loss of life of Emma Afra and Vivian Brahms who perished on Tuesday, February 18, when the car they were riding on the ferry ended up in the water for reasons still to be determined,” the statement said. “The entire Fisher Island community mourns their loss and our hearts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones at this very difficult time.”



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Blue Apple Beach House Cartagena – Hotel Review

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Blue Apple Beach House

Private plunge pool? Yes please.

Blue Apple Beach House


  • I visited Cartagena and stayed two nights on an island off the coast at Blue Apple Beach House. Most people come for the day, but staying the night offers an authentic taste of Cartagena’s vibrant culture.
  • Blue Apple is an eco-friendly, well-appointed boutique hotel with just 10 rooms, infinity pools, an on-site restaurant built using repurposed materials. They bolster the economy by hiring and supporting local talent and artists. 
  • I splurged for a stand-alone Deluxe King Cabana for $225 a night. There are five of them, and five smaller, standard rooms in the main house, which start at $125 per night.
  • Read all Business Insider hotel reviews here.

I often daydream about what it would be like to purge my belongings and trade the big city for a sun-soaked simpler life on a deserted island, sipping coconuts under a thatched hut as a warm breeze laps my face.

But truthfully, I’m just not that rough and tumble.

In travel, I still aim for a certain sense of luxury, and the closest I’ve come to marrying those ideals was spending two nights at Blue Apple Beach House. Located on the island of Tierra Bomba, it’s a 30-minute speedboat ride from Cartagena’s ancient walled city.

Of course, the walled city of Cartagena shouldn’t be missed and is home to unparalleled food and culture. And while I savored the fiercely fresh ceviche and streets teeming with art and history, I was turned off by squares overrun by tourists, and vendors aggressively hawking tours, t-shirts, and sunglasses. Going out to dinner, I felt surrounded by more North Americans than South.

Retreating to Blue Apple was a welcome respite. ​

A laid-back retreat, it’s where easy-going locals and in-the-know visitors mingle by cerulean-hued infinity pools. A DJ spins tunes, and the kitchen churns out innovative food and drinks.

With white-sand beaches and swaying palms, Blue Apple makes for a popular day trip, and most shuttle back and forth on speedboats to visit just for the day. But devoting nights to staying offshore is when this hotel really comes alive. 

I spent two nights in a Deluxe King Cabana villa with a private pool for $225 per night, though prices for such rooms can start as low as $185 per night, and smaller rooms in the main house start at $125 per night. I wouldn’t hesitate to return to a villa for the sustainable luxury on offer at an affordable price point, as well as the remote and idyllic location, and the warm, friendly staff who made my stay so special.

Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by Blue Apple Beach House.



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