Entrepreneur Index™ Down as Medicare-for-All Idea Rattles Healthcare Stocks

The healthcare industry, normally a defensive place to invest, is one of the worst-performing sectors in the market this year.

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By Andrew Osterland • Apr 17, 2019

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Drug-makers, hospital managers and health insurers were all down big today largely because of a warning issued by UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann in an earnings conference call yesterday. The leader of the nation's biggest health insurer suggested that the Medicare-for-all proposals being made by Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and other Democrats could cause "wholesale disruption of American healthcare" and have "a severe impact on the economy and jobs."

Wichmann's comments spooked investors. UnitedHealth's stock and virtually every other healthcare stock fell dramatically in the last two days, as investors consider that the next election could have profound effects on the very profitable healthcare industry.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals had the biggest decline on the Entrepreneur Index™ today, falling 8.08 percent. The company has been standout in the industry so far this year, still up 29.3 percent. Fellow drug-maker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals also fell 6.72 percent, putting its return for the year at (-8.17 percent).

Boston Scientific Corp. was down 3.48 percent. The medical device maker fell 4.34 percent yesterday after the Food and Drug Administration ordered it and other companies to remove vaginal mesh products from the market. The move by the regulator could increase Boston Scientific's vulnerability to hundreds of private lawsuits filed against the company over the products.

Hospital manager Universal Health Services rounded out the top four biggest losses on the Entrepreneur Index™ today, falling 2.91 percent. The index closed the day down 0.71 percent, while the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes all had smaller declines.

Technology stocks were mostly down. TripAdvisor Inc. (-2.76 percent), salesforce.com (-2.21 percent) and Verisign Inc. (-1.32 percent) had the biggest declines. Netflix reported strong financial results yesterday, but gave cautious guidance for the second quarter. The stock was down 1.31 percent.

Other declines on the index included diversified manufacturer Danaher Corp. (-2.57 percent) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (-2.59 percent), which was downgraded to market perform by a Morgan Stanley analyst.

Ralph Lauren Corp. had the biggest gain on the Entrepreneur Index™ today, rising 1.7 percent. Tyson Foods was up 1.69 percent. The food-maker's stock set a 52-week high today and is up 37.2 percent for the year. Other gains on the index included Ford Motor Co. (1.6 percent), retailer Dollar Tree Inc. (1.59 percent) and Comcast (1.43 percent).

The Entrepreneur Index™ collects the top 60 publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial spirit is a valuable asset for any business, and this index recognizes its importance, no matter how much a company has grown. These inspirational businesses can be tracked in real time on Entrepreneur.com.

Andrew Osterland

Andrew Osterland is a contributing writer for CNBC.com. He specializes in capital markets, personal finance and taxes.

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