Executives at UnitedHealth Group Inc. said only a little about commercial insurance and commercial health insurance policy on Tuesday when they went over the company’s first-quarter earnings during a conference call with securities analysts.
The Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company focused mainly on its role as a provider of Medicaid plans, Medicare plans and health care management services.
Stephen Hemsley, acknowledged that UnitedHealth is an insurance company mainly when he was talking about the Affordable Care Act health insurer tax, a tax that was originally added to the ACA by Democrats in Congress who feared that the ACA individual health coverage ownership mandate and the ACA public exchange system would send health insurers windfall profits.
“Affordability can be improved most in the immediate term through a lower tax,” Hemsley said during the call, which was streamed live on the web. “We hope Congress acts soon to permanently repeal the tax.”
UnitedHealth is the first big health insurer to release first-quarter earnings. The company as a whole is reporting $2.2 billion in net income for the quarter on $38.9 billion in revenue, up from $1.6 billion in net income on $35 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2016.
The company ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 49.3 million people, up from 48.6 million people a year earlier.
Here’s a look at three highlights from the conference call for agents and brokers in the commercial health insurance market.
1. Executives avoided mentioning people who sell insurance.
UnitedHealth executives did not use words such as “broker” or “consultant” during the call, or in their earnings release.
Dirk McMahon, executive vice president of enterprise operations, mentioned “agents” once: when he was talking about the call center service agents who talk workers at self-insured employers into signing up for disease management programs.
2. Executives were vague about what they want the federal government to do and what they think it is doing.