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Policy uncertainty may drive premiums higher; double-digit rate hikes in Maine

The uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump's administration's oversight of the Affordable Care Act is expected to drive healthcare insurance premiums up significantly for many Americans, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

Additionally, an August Kaiser Health Tracking Poll shows about 78% of Americans feel Trump and his administration should try to make the current healthcare law work, while 17% say they should do what they can to make the law fail so they can replace it later.

Speaking to reporters from his New Jersey golf club, Trump said the Senate's failure to pass its healthcare legislation in July was a "disgrace" — noting particularly that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had missed by one vote in getting the Republicans' so-called "skinny repeal" bill across the finish line.

Updates on rate change requests: Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa said all three of the state's health insurance providers will receive double-digit rate increases for 2018 ACA plans, but they will have to reduce their rate increase requests slightly, the Portland Press Herald reported. Cioppa agreed to approve revised increases of 27.1% for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Inc., 17.5% for Maine Community Health Options and 18.8% for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

And in Vermont, Green Mountain Care Board approved a 9.2% rate increase for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Vermont health plans sold through the state's online benefit exchange, Vermont Health Connect. The insurer initially sought an average annual rate hike of 12.7% for 2018.

In equity markets, Maiden Holdings Ltd. saw the largest loss among insurers for the week ending Aug. 10, one of the final weeks of second-quarter earnings reports and one in which few insurers made gains. For the week, the SNL Insurance Index fell 1.03% to 969.82, compared with the S&P 500's 1.56% fall to 2,438.21.

In earnings news, Kingstone Cos. Inc. reported second-quarter net operating income of $2.4 million, or 22 cents per share, down from $2.7 million, or 34 cents per share, in the prior-year period.

Heritage Insurance Holdings Inc. priced a private offering of $125 million aggregate principal amount of 5.875% convertible senior notes due 2037.

Ron Rothenberger bought Pennsylvania-based Advocate Insurance from partner Leonard Lichty on March 1, Reading Eagle reported.

Featured news

US opioids crisis a national emergency; Shanghai drug companies bid for Arbor: President Donald Trump has declared the opioid crisis in the U.S. a national emergency.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: National Australia Bank's Q3 cash profit up 5%; HK regulator may penalize CBA

Europe: Old Mutual's H1 profit up 87%; Nationwide's Q2 profit drops; Co-op loss widens

Middle East & Africa: Saudi banks see NPL rise; Zenith posts Q2; Mozambique, Zambia cut rates

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng dropped 2.04% to 26,883.51, and the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.05% to 19,729.74.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 1.21% to 7,300.56, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.06% to 986.29.

On the macro front

The consumer price index and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.