UnitedHealth Group Reports Second Quarter Growth

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UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, reported Thursday financial growth driven by its expansion of medical benefits sold to state and federal governments, Medicare related products and its international health care business.

Net income for the second quarter was $1.41 billion, or $1.42 per share, compared with $1.44 billion, or $1.40 per share, during the same period in 2013.

Total revenues were up to $32.57 billion compared with $30.4 billion during the same three-month period in 2013.

UnitedHealthcare is the largest division of UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn. UnitedHealthcare, which has major operations in Connecticut, reported second quarter revenues of $30.1 billion, up 6 percent from the same period in 2013.

UnitedHealthcare saw growth in medical benefits programs provided by federal and state governments, along with programs for people 65 and older and international growth, while it had a decrease in business related to health benefits provided by U.S. employers.

UnitedHealthcare had 7 percent growth in its Medicare and Retirement programs, which accounted for $11.8 billion in revenue during the quarter. In Medicare Advantage, the company grew its membership by 65,000 and Medicare Supplement grew by 300,000 customers, year over year. Medicare Part D, the stand-alone prescription drug coverage, grew by 350,000 people in one year.

UnitedHealthcare’s total commercial membership, meaning people in employer-based plans, was down to 28.85 million as of June 30 from 30.1 million a year earlier. The company had 11.32 million people in public and senior plans, including Medicare and Medicaid related plans, compared with 10.23 million a year earlier.

Sterne Agee financial analyst Brian Wright wrote in a note to investors that while UnitedHealth Group is seeing improved results from government-related business, Sterne Agee believes the deteriorating fundamentals in its commercial business will likely prevent the company from showing as much share-price upside as its competitors.

During the quarter, UnitedHealth Group increased its annual dividend payment to $1.50 per share. The company renewed its share repurchase program for 100 million shares, which is about 10 percent of outstanding shares. UnitedHealth Group has spent nearly $2 billion repurchasing 25 million shares.

The company’s stock closed at $85.11 Thursday, up $1.35.

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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