Health insurers fall and device makers rally against rising expectations for elective surgery

What happened: UnitedHealth executives told an investor conference Tuesday that demand for surgeries like knee and hip replacements is picking up, after the pandemic caused many patients to delay elective care. “Some indications look a bit like pent-up demand or delayed demand satisfied,” said chief financial officer John Rex.

Insurer stocks fell. Shares of UnitedHealth, the largest publicly traded insurer, fell 7.6% shortly after opening Wednesday. CVS Health, Humana, Cigna and Centene also traded lower.

Stocks of medical devices increased. Stryker, Zimmer Biomet and Boston Scientific have all rallied.

Hospital inventories also increased. More surgeries would result in higher occupancy and higher incomes. Universal Health Services rose 5.3%, the best gain in the S&P 500. HCA Healthcare rose 3%.

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