News Briefs

✦ UnitedHealth Group on April 15 reported first-quarter 2020 adjusted earnings per share of $3.72, in line with the same period last year, and maintained its full year EPS outlook in the range of $16.25 to $16.55. These results reflected “minimal impact from the progression” of COVID-19 across the U.S., given that it emerged late in the quarter, according to a press release. Revenues for the quarter ending March 31 rose 6.8% to $64.4 billion, “reflecting broad-based revenue growth across Optum and UnitedHealthcare,” and UHC’s medical loss ratio dropped from 82.0% in the year-ago quarter to 81.0% in the recent quarter, largely as a result of the Affordable Care Act health insurer fee returning and partly offset by additional calendar days. UHC’s first-quarter revenues increased by 4.4% to $51.1 billion, primarily due to enrollment growth in Medicare Advantage and Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans; revenues in the Medicare & Retirement segment climbed 9.7% to $23.2 billion in the recent quarter, as the business grew to serve 5.6 million MA enrollees — a year-over-year increase of 410,000. The company added that UnitedHealth Group President and Optum CEO Andrew Witty is taking a leave of absence to help lead the World Health Organization’s new initiative for COVID-19 vaccine development. View the release at https://bit.ly/3co3qGC.

✦ Medicare Advantage has experienced year-to-date (YTD) enrollment growth of 6.4%, and added nearly 78,000 members from March to April, according to a Credit Suisse analysis of the latest enrollment figures from CMS. YTD enrollment this year is “above the pace of the prior two years,” which was 4.8% in 2019 and 5.2% in 2018, and “runs counter to conventional wisdom which says the return of the HIF [health insurer fee] should dampen the Y/Y growth rate,” wrote Credit Suisse analyst A.J. Rice on April 15. UnitedHealth Group and Humana Inc. were YTD growth leaders, as UnitedHealth added an industry-leading 355,900 members and Humana grew by 337,300 enrollees, Credit Suisse estimated. The five major MCOs (including CVS Health Corp.’s Aetna), which account for roughly 61.6% of total MA enrollments, have cumulatively grown 8.1% YTD, compared with 3.7% YTD growth for the remaining MA plans, added Rice. View the monthly enrollment report at https://go.cms.gov/3cln7P7 or contact Rice at aj.rice@credit-suisse.com.

© 2021 MMIT

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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