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Fitch raises outlook for health insurers for 2018

Fitch Ratings has raised its 2018 fundamental sector outlook for health insurers in the U.S. to stable from negative, expecting companies' financial leverage to remain stable and operating performance to be strong.

The rating agency also expects to affirm ratings for most health insurers in 2018, and changed the ratings outlook to stable from negative. There will be fewer upgrades than downgrades, Fitch added.

"Strategic acquisitions designed to add specified enrollment, specialized competencies or care delivery capabilities will continue on a relatively smaller scale within the sector," Fitch expects.

CVS Health Corp.'s announced purchase of Aetna Inc. was driven by significant changes occurring within the larger healthcare industry, and there could be more such deals involving health insurers, Fitch said.