UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) did well in the third quarter, but company executives said they are reluctant to try to give many details about how they think the company will do in 2013.
Stephen Hemsley, the president of UnitedHealth, emphasized the headwinds that could be facing the company in the coming year today during a conference call with securities analysts.
“Given the weak business climate and employment outlook in the United States, and the mounting pressures on federal and state budgets, to mention just a few of the challenges, we continue to be cautious about 2013 earnings performance,” Hemsley said.
The current year has been a great year for the company, and the company is in as good or better position than it was a year ago, Hemsley said.
But “we are being cautious, and we think the market should be cautious as well,” Hemsley said.
UnitedHealth is reporting $1.6 billion in net income for the third quarter on $27 billion in revenue, up from $1.3 billion in net income on $26 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2011.
The company ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 36.5 million people, up 6.1 percent from the number it was covering a year earlier.
The growth came from increases in Medicaid and Medicare program enrollment, and in expansion in the large, self-funded employer health plans administered by UnitedHealth.
Enrollment in traditional, “risk-based” commercial health insurance programs fell 2.1 percent, to 9.3 million.
Hemsley said UnitedHealth expects to continue to lose “moderate levels of risk-based membership in the near term” as it sticks to “disciplined” pricing levels.