This excerpt taken from the UNH 10-K filed Feb 11, 2009.
Proposed Health Care Reforms
There is regular dialogue about health care reforms at both state and national levels, due to the size of and national interest in the health economy. Examples of these health care reform proposals include policy changes that would change the dynamics of the health care industry, such as having the federal or one or more state governments assume a larger role in the health care system or a fundamental restructuring of the Medicare or Medicaid programs.
The new administration and various congressional leaders have signaled their interest in reducing payments to private plans offering Medicare Advantage. Depending on the extent and phasing of these potential reductions, management believes that the number of seniors participating in Medicare Advantage and the industry-wide earnings derived from these plans may fall. However, if payment rates do come down, management believes that there are a number of adjustments we can make to our operations annually, which may partially offset any earnings impact. For example, we can adjust members benefits, we can decide on a county-by-county basis which geographies to participate in, and we can seek to intensify our medical and operating cost management. Any payment reductions may be phased in over a number of years. If industry-wide Medicare Advantage membership reduces, there is likely to be increased demand for Medicare Supplemental insurance and Part D prescription drug coverage, and in both categories Ovations is also a market leader.
We operate a diversified set of health care focused businesses; this business model has been intentionally designed to address a multitude of market sectors. Therefore, we could see simultaneous increases and decreases in demand for various of our products and services, depending on the scope, shape and timing of health care reforms. It is difficult to predict the outcome of reform discussions with precision over the mid- to long-term time horizon. For additional discussions regarding our risks related to health care reforms, see Item 1A, Risk Factors.