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Wellcare Under Review for Downgrade

The raid on its Florida offices couldn't have come at a worse time. Ratings has put the financial strength rating of


(WCG) - Get Report

and its subsidiaries under review for a possible downgrade following a

government raid of its Florida offices last week.

The company, which supplies health insurance coverage exclusively to Medicare and Medicaid recipients, is under investigation for fraud by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Medicaid fraud unit for the state of Florida, among others.

While the financial impact is unclear, the raid couldn't come at a worse time for the company.

Open enrollment for Medicare's prescription drug plan is set to start Nov. 15 and ends the first of the year.

During this period, newly eligible seniors will be allowed to select a plan and, more importantly, existing Medicare recipients can choose to switch to another provider.

With just two weeks to go and little information regarding the investigation, Florida affiliate Wellcare Prescription Insurance could suffer significant withdrawals.

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The company offers stand-alone prescription drug plans to nearly 1 million members, all of whom have been enrolled since its inception in January 2006.

Second-quarter financial filings indicate that nearly half of the company's $2.5 billion in revenue is sourced from the Medicare line of business. Ratings looks at the financial strength of health insurers using a quantitative model to assign ratings from "A" to "E."

The analysis is based on each insurer's financial performance, including an analysis of profitability, liquidity, stability and capitalization.

The current ratings of the various Wellcare entities can be found in the table below.

Note that the "C" (fair) rating of Wellcare Prescription Insurance already reflects Ratings' concern regarding the stability of this company, despite the stronger financial health of Wellcare of Florida.

Donna O'Rourke joined Weiss Ratings, now Ratings, Inc., in 1999, and is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial safety ratings to health insurers and supporting other health care-related consumer products including Medicare supplement insurance, long-term care insurance and elder care information. She conducts industry analysis in these areas. She has more than 10 years experience in credit risk management and analyses. Previously she served as an assistant vice president at the Union Bank of Switzerland, where she analyzed hedge funds, insurance companies and structured products in support of the derivatives and foreign exchange businesses. She holds a bachelor of science in management from Binghamton University and a master's of science in health systems administration from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

While O'Rourke cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, she appreciates your feedback;

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