This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 5, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: One company that's managed to escape Enronitis is Oxford Health Plans. Take a look at this stock. Just since January 1, it's up more than 25 percent. And as you can see, that's a heck of a lot better than our major averages are doing right now. They are appreciably underwater.
Today, the managed health care giant reporting much stronger than expected profits in its fourth quarter. I think that was about 12 cents stronger, in fact, by some people's estimates, 17 by others. Regardless, joining us now is Oxford's chairman and CEO, Dr. Norman Payson. Doctor, good to have you.
DR. NORMAN PAYSON, CHAIRMAN & CEO, OXFORD HEALTH PLANS: Nice to be here. Thank you.
CAVUTO: It's interesting. I guess your benefiting not only from the good business but from this perception that people understand what you are doing.
PAYSON: Yes. It is a very fundamental industry we are in. And at difficult times, people want to go back to simple things and things they can understand, so it makes a lot of sense. The other thing is we have done relatively well compared to others in the industry, and by working on health care costs, we're able to keep premiums more affordable. So ironically...
CAVUTO: But they have still been moving up.
PAYSON: They have been moving up, but like our rates are moving up like 10 percent. But a lot in our industry are raising rates 12, 14, 16 percent.
CAVUTO: So investors love that. Obviously, patients would prefer that they not go up as much.
PAYSON: Well, the things is that patients are coming to Oxford and that the good news. And that is why our stock has moved, we think in large part, is that people were concerned because of the New York economy that we would lose membership. BrMDNM_ut, in fact, what's happened is people have gone back to Oxford and enrollment is growing very nicely. And also, we think benefit plans are also driving enrollment.
CAVUTO: But, aren't you just benefiting from a trend where people are nervous. They want coverage anyway. They'll pay a little bit more to get it. You are just not hiking prices as much as your competitors and you just so happen to have a more efficient organization.
PAYSON: Well, it's a combination of all of those things, but people basically want Oxford if they can afford it. By keeping our premiums from not going up as much has made it easier for them to obtain Oxford, so that's helped us a lot.
CAVUTO: What about the post-September 11 wave? There was a feeling that since you are principally in the New York area, that this would hit you hard. But you are arguing just the opposite happened.
PAYSON: Well, we were concerned about it initially too. In the fall, we were concerned because of the lower levels of employment and more uninsured, we thought that our enrollment would go down as well. But what happened is people basically froze for a few weeks or a month in decision making in terms of health insurance for 2002, just everybody took a pause. And then when our competitors come in with these big rate increases, really we had a tremendous tie towards Oxford.
CAVUTO: OK. Doctor, thank you very much. Good seeing you again.
PAYSON: Thank you. Nice to be here.
CAVUTO: Best of luck. Dr. Norman Payson is the Oxford Health Plans CEO out with much better than expected numbers and obviously a performer on the Street.
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