Health Care Insider Trading

by Gerri Willis

 

Another health-care story caught my eye in the Wall Street Journal: possible insider trading of health-care stocks as the result of a policy shift in Washington.

Here's what happened: On Monday, the White House announced they were no longer going to cut Medicare advantage by 2%. They're actually going to raise investments in the program by 3%.

That announcement sent health insurance stocks soaring: Aetna up 2.5%, UnitedHealth 3%, and Humana a whopping 8.5% spike.

Pretty impressive.

But now, the paper is looking into the possibility traders were tipped off by a private message alerting them the change was coming.

The paper says the message came from a Washington investment-research firm called height securities about 20 minutes before the markets closed.

Volumes for those companies skyrocketed, even though the official announcement from the White House would come about 15 minutes after the market closed.

And today a GAO report was released calling on the SEC to crack down on market-moving information being leaked from Capitol Hill.

They absolutely should. Insider trading is a contagion in this country and one that makes for an uneven playing field for small investors. Once again, the big guys get critical trading information while small investors are left in the cold.

Everyone should get the same information at the same time... is that too much to ask?!?