Anthem 1Q Results Tout Gov’t Plan Growth, 85.6% MLR

Anthem, Inc. reported strong membership growth in its Medicare and Medicaid segments along with a lower-than-expected medical loss ratio (MLR) of 85.6% in its 2021 first-quarter earnings report. The MLR results, which handily beat analysts’ expectations of an 87.7% MLR, reflected lower utilization of non-COVID-19-related medical services, the company said.

The insurer isn’t necessarily expecting utilization to jump as the pandemic winds down, Chief Financial Officer John Gallina said April 21 during the company’s earnings conference call. “We continue to closely monitor our markets as vaccination rates increase,” Gallina said. “The senior population has been vaccinated sooner, and so we are seeing a significant decline in COVID inpatient [costs] associated with seniors, which means that the non-COVID [utilization] can rebound a bit faster. We believe that we’ve totally factored that in.” Members who needed care in 2020 mostly were able to obtain it, Gallina said, and so there likely isn’t “a giant backlog.” But Anthem did see some increased costs associated with COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration in the first quarter, he said.

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