Executives at Anthem Inc. might be warming up, a little, to ordinary commercial individual and group commercial health insurance products.
A modest revival of interest in commercial products surfaced today during a conference call Anthem held with securities analysts to go over first-quarter earnings.
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Anthem streamed the call live on the web and posted a recording on its website.
The Indianapolis-based health insurance giant reported $1 billion in net income for the quarter on $22 billion in revenue, up from $703 million in net income on $20 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2016.
The company ended the quarter providing or administering medical coverage for about 41 million people, or 2.6% more people than it was covering a year earlier.
What Anthem thinks about the commercial health insurance market or Medicare plans could have an obvious effect on agents and advisors who help clients with those products.
For any financial advisors who help early retirees use annuities or other mechanisms to fund post-retirement costs, Anthem’s decisions could affect how much those early retirees have to pay for individual commercial health coverage, or whether they can get any kind of major medical coverage at all.
Here’s a look at some of what Anthem executives said about the results during the conference call.
1. Anthem executives still don’t talk to you.
If executives used the word “agent,” “broker,” “consultant” or “distribution” team during the conference call, we missed it.
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Executives did attribute their strong first-quarter commercial health insurance performance to successful efforts to collaborate with health care providers.
In the earnings release, Anthem reported that it spent $349 million on selling expenses during the quarter. Selling expense was 0.4% lower than in the year-earlier quarter.
2. The company’s commercial health insurance business looks better, overall.
Anthem executives said they were happy with the performance of their commercial health operations in the first quarter.
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Enrollment in big, national account plans stood at 13 million at the end of the quarter. That was down slightly, about 0.1%, from the year-earlier total.
Enrollment in local groups increased 3.3%, to 16 million.
John Gallina, Anthem’s chief financial officer, said Anthem increased local group sales by offering products and holding down administrative costs.
The company’s recent strength in the local group market and in fully insured group plans “has to do with capitalizing on a shrinking marketplace” and taking share away from competitors, Gallina said.