UnitedHealth Group executives seemed to avoid associating their company with commercial health insurance today as they talked about third-quarter earnings during a conference call with securities analysts.
Related: UnitedHealth’s earnings, dissected
Stephen Hemsley, the chief executive officer, described UnitedHealth as a company that works “to improve [the] overall health care system,” and, later, as a company that helps “make the health system work better for everyone.”
The Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company had Larry Renfro, the head of its Optum health services unit, talk about the performance of his unit before it brought out Dave Wichmann, the head of the UnitedHealthcare insurance unit. Wichmann talked about the unit’s Employer & Individual health coverage division only briefly.
“The market continues to respond positively to the value UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual plans offer,” Wichmann said during the call, which was streamed live on the Web. “Excluding individual plans, our commercial group business grown to serve 775,000 more people year-over year, continuing its consistent pattern of growth.
Wichmann then went on to spend much more time talking about the unit’s Medicare and Medicaid operations.
UnitedHealth as a whole reported $2 billion in net income for the quarter on $46 billion in revenue, up from $1.6 billion in net income on $41 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2015.
The UnitedHealthcare insurance unit is reporting $2.1 billion in operating earnings for the quarter on $37 billion in revenue, up from $1.9 billion in operating earnings on $33 billion in revenue for the year-earlier quarter.
The company ended the quarter providing or administering major medical coverage for 44 million people in the United States and 48 million people around the world, up from 42 million in the United States and 46 million around the world Sept. 30, 2015.
The company did not mention the Affordable Care Act public health insurance exchange system, or the ACA-compliant individual major medical market, in its earnings release for the quarter, except in a footnote at the bottom about “factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from results discussed or implied in forward-looking statements.”
The company and its executives did not mention insurance agents or brokers in the earnings release or during the conference call.
For a look at more of what the company said about its U.S. commercial health insurance operations, read on:
UnitedHealth used to employ Andrew Slavitt, the current head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (Image: House Energy hearing video screen capture)
Individual exchange plans lost more than expected
Andrew Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that oversees the ACA exchange system, worked for UnitedHealth before he went to CMS, but UnitedHealth is showing no interest in reversing the decision it made earlier this year to cut back sharply on exchange program participation.