NU Online News Service, Jan. 29, 2004, 6:01 p.m. EST – Higher rates, lower costs and acquisitions helped profits at Anthem Inc. and WellPoint Health Networks Inc. in the fourth quarter of 2003.[@@]

Anthem, Indianapolis, is acquiring WellPoint, a larger managed care company based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., through a merger.

Anthem is reporting $208.8 million in net income for the latest quarter on $4.3 billion in revenue, up from $171.9 million in net income on $4 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2002. Anthem recently completed the acquisition of Trigon Healthcare Inc., a Virginia Blue Cross and Blue Shield company.

WellPoint is reporting $271.5 million in net income for the latest quarter on $5.5 billion in revenue, up from $180 million in net income on $4.6 billion in revenue. WellPoint recently completed the acquisition of Cobalt Corp., the Wisconsin Blue Cross and Blue Shield Company.

Anthem and WellPoint ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for a total of 26.9 million people, up from 25 million people a year earlier.

In the past, some large managed care companies accepted membership losses as a price they had to pay to increase rates to realistic levels.

This year, Anthem and WellPoint are getting both higher enrollment and higher rates.

At Anthem, despite higher rates, “we attracted a number of new members and retained approximately 90% of our existing customer base,” Chairman Larry Glasscock says.