Skip to Content

Obamacare Plans Are Turning a Profit: Brainstorm Health

Good afternoon, readers!

In the 2018 iteration of Fortune's Crystal Ball—our collective predictions for what might happen across industries in the coming year—we wrote that Obamacare plans would turn a profit in 2019, and that certain insurers would continue to double down on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in spite of the political bedlam besieging them.

As it turns out... Obamacare plans are turning a profit in 2019, and certain insurers are continuing to double down on them in spite of said political bedlam.

Oscar Health, the startup that has largely placed its bet on the individual insurance market (while simultaneously expanding in other directions) is adding six new states—including Pennsylvania and Georgia—to its slate of Obamacare plan offerings in 2020.

"This is the third consecutive year Oscar has significantly expanded its footprint, and this expansion brings Oscar’s total geographic footprint to 15 states and 26 markets," said the company in a statement on Thursday.

And it's not just Oscar. Cigna and Centene (the latter being a long-time Obamacare iconoclast and enthusiast) are also expanding their ACA offerings next year.

The reasoning, for the companies, is simple: After several rocky years and an avalanche of political disruption (including the repeal of ACA's individual insurance mandate), the firms have concluded that there's still significant profit to be made—especially as some larger insurers have retrenched from the markets.

Read on for the day's news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy, sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

Scientists are trying to use CRISPR to alter human sperm. NPR has a fascinating report on one of the more intriguing uses of CRISPR gene-editing technology—editing DNA in human sperm. Scientists at the Weill Cornell Medical College are reportedly testing out ways to modify genes in sperm in order to prevent genetic disorders passed on from males. (NPR)

INDICATIONS

Trump administration fights back on prices in TV drug ads rule. The Trump administration is fighting back after a federal judge blocked its efforts to force drug companies to disclose list prices in pharmaceutical TV ads. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has filed an appeal against the decision. The disclosure rule, which was issued by HHS, was challenged by large drug makers such as Merck, Eli Lilly, and Amgen, who argued that it would violate free speech rights by compelling such disclosures.

GSK’s long-acting HIV injection may only need to be taken six times a year. GlaxoSmithKline has been working on an injectable, two-drug HIV combo treatment that could potentially last for a full month (rather than having to be taken daily as a pill). But the company says a new study shows it might be just as effective every other month. If those findings hold true, it’s not just a remarkable advance in how HIV may be treated—it could give Glaxo ammunition against critics who say an injectable treatment would be more cumbersome for patients as it would have to be administered in a hospital setting (instead of just taking a pill at home). (Reuters)

THE BIG PICTURE

Drug-resistant salmonella has CDC on edge. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is monitoring an outbreak of treatment-resistant salmonella which appears to have infected more than 250 people across more than 30 states. What’s particularly concerning is that the strain, apparently linked to beef and soft cheeses, may be affecting cattle in both the United States and Mexico. (CNN)

REQUIRED READING

How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagonby James Bandler, Anjali Tsui, & Doris Burke

From Fringe to Core: The ‘Green’ Economy Grows Upby Jeffrey Ball

‘Destruction of Capital’: How GE’s Decade of Stock Buybacks May Come Back to Haunt Itby Shawn Tully

Silicon Valley’s Obsession With a $10 Billion Prizeby Polina Marinova

Find past coverage. Sign up for other Fortune newsletters.