NU Online News Service, Oct. 15, 2004, 4:10 p.m. EDT

Strong sales of health coverage helped UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., increase third-quarter net earnings.[@@]

The managed care giant is reporting $698 million in net income for the latest quarter on $9.9 billion in revenue, up from $476 million in net income on $7.2 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2003.

Net income was up 47%.

UnitedHealth ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 12.4 million people, up from 9.1 million people a year earlier.

The acquisition of Oxford Health Plans Inc., Trumbull, Conn., accounted for some of the growth in enrollment and earnings, but “same store” enrollment, or enrollment at health plans UnitedHealth has owned for more than a year, grew by 140,000, UnitedHealth says.