|By The Associated Press|
Health insurer balance sheets for the fourth quarter will largely remain immune from the strong flu season sweeping the country, according to analysts who cover the sector.
Incidents of flu in the final quarter of 2012 reached their highest level since 2009 and were 51 percent higher than the last quarter of 2011,
That can stir investor worry about lower profitability because insurers haven't set aside enough money to cover an influx of medical claims, especially from expensive hospitalization cases.
But Rigg also noted that the flu has a limited impact _ if any _ on long-term results.
"We see no reason to hit the panic button if a given concern posts (earnings per share) below expectations due to the flu," Rigg said.
The analyst said insurers like
The picture's a little murkier for
Health insurer stocks fell mostly in line with the broader market's slight decrease Friday morning. Aetna dropped
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