UnitedHealth Earnings Up, Quarterly Revenue Increases 12% To $30.6 Billion

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UnitedHealth Group on Thursday reported an increase in earnings and revenue for the three-month period ending Sept. 30.

The company reported quarterly earnings of $1.57 billion, or $1.53 per share, up from $1.56 billion, or $1.50 per share, during the same period last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting $1.53 per share.

Quarterly revenues grew 12 percent to $30.6 billion, up from $27.3 billion during the same period last year. Most of the company’s revenue comes from premiums paid by health insurance customers, which totaled $27.4 billion for the quarter, up from $24.6 billion during the same period last year.

UnitedHealth Group of Minnetonka, Minn., the nation’s largest health insurer, is the parent company of UnitedHealthcare and Optum, a health technology company. UnitedHealth employs about 4,200 people in Connecticut.

The company grew its commercial membership to 30.1 million as of Sept. 30 compared with 26.9 million a year earlier. That growth is largely 2.9 million new customers in TRICARE, the federal government-funded health insurance for the military and their families.

UnitedHealth also saw growth in its Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and Medicare Supplement plans with a combined membership of 10.3 million on Sept. 30, up from 9.6 million a year earlier.

Membership in the company’s Medicare Part D, standalone prescription drug coverage, increased to 4.9 million at the end of the quarter from 4.23 million a year earlier.

The company had no international customers as of Sept. 30, 2012, but it spent $4.9 billion since then to acquire Brazil’s biggest health care company Amil Participações S.A. As of Sept. 30, UnitedHealth had 4.9 million customers in its international markets.

During the third quarter, UnitedHealth repurchased 14 million shares for $1 billion and paid $280 million in dividends to shareholders, which is a 29 percent increase compared to last year. So far this year, the company has bought back 37 million shares for $2.35 billion.

One key metric all health insurers look at is the ratio of money spent on customers’ medical needs to the premium dollars paid to the insurer, known in the industry as medical loss ratio. UnitedHealth said its consolidated medical loss ratio was 80.6 percent in the third quarter.

Shares of UnitedHealth Group closed at $71.37, down $3.82 on Thursday.

A previous version of this blog post said UnitedHealth Group beat analysts’ expectations. It did not. It met analysts’ expectations. The corrected blog post is below.

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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