WellPoint Inc. (NYSE:WLP) is racing to get ready to sell coverage through the new exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets, that are supposed to open for business in late 2013.
Executives at WellPoint talked about private exchanges and the exchanges to be created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) today during a conference call that the company held to discuss its third-quarter earnings with securities analysts.
WellPoint is reporting $691 million in net income for the latest quarter on $15 billion in revenue, compared with $683 million in net income on $15 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2011.
The company ended the quarter providing or administering medical coverage for about 33.5 million people, or about 2.5 percent fewer than it was covering a year earlier.
Total enrollment in commercial small group and large group plans fell as WellPoint realigned the small group plans the company sells in New York state and increased the fees it charges to administer large, self-insured national accounts plans.
“Enrollment was also impacted by economy-related in-group membership attrition and competitive situations in certain local group markets,” the company said in a comment on its earnings.
Wayne DeVeydt, the WellPoint chief financial officer, said during the call that the company is in the middle of the pricing season for coverage that will take effect Jan. 1, 2013.
WellPoint is taking a “disciplined” approach to pricing that could squeeze commercial insured plan enrollment in 2013. But the effects of that pressure will probably be weaker in 2013 than they have been this year, DeVeydt said.
“From a commercial perspective,” he said, “the fully insured business remains competitive, but rational overall.”
Later in 2013, some individuals who want individual coverage might put off buying insurance until the PPACA exchanges start up, DeVeydt said.