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UnitedHealth Wants Association Health Plan Details

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Executives at UnitedHealth Group Inc. like the idea of being offer to new types of association health plan (AHP) coverage, but they say their reaction to any particular AHP proposal will depend on the details. 

The question came off today, as the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company held a conference call to go over its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2017 with securities analysts. President Donald Trump has called for expanding employers’ access to AHP programs. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed regulations that could make it easier for multiple employers to team up to buy coverage through an AHP.

(Related: 7 Facts About the Trump Team’s New Association Health Plan Proposal)

David Wichmann, the company’s chief executive officer, noted that the company already offers AHP coverage in the individual market, and that it also works with professional employer organizations, which, he said, have similarities with employer AHPs.

UnitedHealth supports the idea of expanding employers’ coverage choices by adding AHP options, Wichmann said.

“They must be designed carefully,” Wichmann added.

Wichmann said UnitedHealth has concerns about the possibility that poorly designed AHP programs could destabilize the traditional small-group market.

UnitedHealth will talk about ways to avoid that when it files a comment on the DOL’s proposed regulations, Wichmann said.

UnitedHealth as a whole is reporting $3.7 billion in net income for the fourth quarter on $40 billion in revenue, up from $1.7 billion in net income on $37 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016.

Revenue at the commercial individual and employer unit fell to $13.3 billion, from $13.5 billion, as revenue at the Medicare and retirement unit increased to $16.4 billion, from $14 billion.

The company ended the year providing or administering medical coverage for 49.5 million people, up from 48.6 million people a year earlier.

  • Commercial group enrollment increased to 26.5 million, from 26.4 million.

  • Fully insured group enrollment increased to 7.9 million, from 7.5 million.

  • Self-insured group enrollment fell to 18.6 million, from 18.9 million.

  • Individual major medical enrollment fell to 485,000, from 1.3 million.

—Read UnitedHealth Is Bullish on Health Insurance — in South America on ThinkAdvisor.

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