NU Online News Service, April 22, 2004, 1:06 p.m. EDT – The deterioration of traditional health benefits helped Torchmark Corp., Birmingham, Ala., expand first-quarter supplemental health sales.[@@]

The company is reporting $112.4 million in net income for the latest quarter on $772.6 million in revenue, up from $100.6 million in net income on $718.5 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2003.

First-year premium revenue for Torchmark’s biggest seller, life insurance, increased to $59 million, up 10% from the total for the comparable quarter in 2003.

Torchmark’s first-year health premium revenue increased 19%, to $41 million. First-year premiums for Medicare supplement policies fell 12%, to $15 million, but first-year premiums for limited benefit hospital and surgical supplemental plans aimed at consumers under age 65 leaped 51%, to $26 million.

“The demand for limited benefit supplemental health plans sold to people under age 65 continues as some employers have eliminated or reduced their major-medical type group coverage for employees, and as individually written major-medical plans have become less available,” the company says in a discussion of the first-quarter results.