Yes it is hard to believe. After all the whining, kvetching and complaining about what the Affordable Care Act would do to the insurance industry (ignoring what it would do for consumers), carriers actually, somehow, struggled hard and made money. A report from the Council of Economic Advisors said the following (a direct quote is worth a thousand words)
After an initial adjustment period, insurers’ financial health, as measured by their stock prices, surpassed earlier levels. Prior to ACA implementation, health insurers’ stock values moved with the S&P index, but after implementation, they diverged significantly. As government policy amplified eligibility and per enrollee spending, the stock prices of health insurance companies rose by 272% from January 2016 to 2018 resulting in improved profitability and outperforming the S&P 500 by 106%.
Maybe they were hoping for 300%…tough break guys.