A cooling in health care price inflation helped earnings at WellPoint Inc. during the third quarter.[@@]

WellPoint, Indianapolis, is reporting $641 million in net income for the latest quarter on $11 billion in revenue, up from $242 million in net income on $4.8 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2004.

The managed care company ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 29 million U.S. residents, up from 13 million a year earlier.

Profit, revenue and enrollment figures reflect the effects of the giant deal that created the new WellPoint. Anthem Inc., Indianapolis, acquired the old WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif., through a merger in November 2004.

Underlying medical costs are up only 8.5%, WellPoint says.

The new WellPoint is trying to acquire WellChoice Inc., New York.

WellChoice, the parent of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan that covers the New York City area, is reporting $76 million in net income for the third quarter on $1.7 billion in revenue, up from $62 million in net income on $1.5 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2004.

WellChoice ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 5 million people, up from 4.9 million people a year earlier.