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Anthem Execs Cautious About 2018

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Anthem Inc. reported higher net income and revenue for the third quarter of this year, and its executives took a cautious approach to talking about how the individual major medical market might work next year.

Anthem, the parent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states, and a dominant force in many states’ health insurance markets, is reporting $747 million in net income for the third quarter on $22 billion in revenue, up from $618 million in net income on $21 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2016.

(Related: Anthem Breaks With Express Scripts, Will Start Own Drug Plan)

The company ended the quarter providing or administering major medical coverage for about 40 million people, or about 0.9% more than its was covering a year ago.

The individual commercial policy enrollee count fell 3.5%, to 1.7 million, including about 900,000 public exchange plan enrollees. But the individual unit did better  than expected during the quarter, because the health of the enrollees was better expected, Joseph Swedish, Anthem’s president, said during a conference call with securities analysts.

Anthem executives said they expect the company to serve only half as many Affordable Care Act public exchange programs in 2018 as they have served this year, and for 2018 public exchange plan enrollment to be about 70% lower, because of program changes and uncertainty.

“The big unknown is the stability of the individual marketplace,” Swedish said.

Anthem has tried to compensate for the turmoil in the individual commercial major medical market by agreeing to pay $1.4 billion to acquire America’s 1st Choice HMO, a Florida Medicare Advantage plan company that provides coverage for about 130,000 people.

In September, Anthem agreed to acquire another Florida Medicare plan company, HealthSun, with about 40,000 Medicare Advantage plan enrollees in the Miami area.

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