Health Insurance Futures

Definition of "Health insurance futures"

Paulo Alves, Broker real estate agent

Written by

Paulo Alves, Brokerelite badge icon

De Paula Realty USA Inc.

One-year futures contract (standardized agreement between two parties to buy or sell a commodity or financial instrument on an organized futures exchange such as the CBOT within some future time period at a present stipulated price), traded at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), which would allow health insurance companies and self-insured employers to hedge their losses. The essential design of this contract is such that when actual claims exceed expected claims by amount "X," the futures contract would increase by the same amount "X." The financial instrument that forms the basis of this futures contract is an index that reflects the claims experience of ten health insurance companies. By buying futures contracts that will appreciate in the future as claims increase in the future, insurance companies and self-insured employers can profit from increasing futures prices through which they can offset their losses. Accordingly, by selling futures contracts that will decline in the future, these organizations can profit from decreasing futures prices that can be used to offset smaller cash flow. For example, if a health insurance company buys a futures contract for $40,000 and then sells it for $50,000, the company will recognize a profit of $10,000, which can be used to pay the higher than expected claims incurred. The cost effectiveness of hedging through the buying and selling of futures contracts depends on high correlations between expected claims payments and the futures contracts prices. If there is a low correlation between expected claims payments and the futures contracts prices, the less cost effective the hedge becomes. Thus, it is critical for the insurance company or the self-insured employer to establish the correlation between its block of business and the health insurance futures index.

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