Glue sticks (Image: Allison Bell/TA)

A few years ago, some insurance company executives reported that the new benefits compliance rules, and the difficulty of moving groups from one insurer or administrator’s system to another, could make group health cases stickier.

(Related: Employers May Be Stickier)

At Anthem Inc., top executives at Anthem Inc. say the market for fully insured group health insurance looks good, and stickier.

Executives talked about the state of the commercial health insurance market Wednesday, during a conference call the company held to go over earnings for the third quarter.

Earnings

The Indianapolis-based health insurer holds the Blue Cross license, the Blue Shield license, or both in many states, and it also sells coverage through national arrangements.

The company is reporting $3.9 billion in net income for the third quarter on $77 billion in revenue, compared with $3.3 billion in net income on $68 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2018.

On an annualized basis, the company’s revenue is roughly comparable to the gross domestic product, or national income, of Egypt, according to International Monetary Fund 2019 GDP estimates.

Enrollment

Anthem ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 41 million people, up from 40 million people a year earlier.

Anthem had been pruning its individual major medical operation, but the company continues to sell coverage through some states’ Affordable Care Act public exchange programs, and in the off-exchange market in other states.

Here’s how the number of people covered by some types of Anthem coverage changed between the third quarter of 2018 and the latest quarter:

  • Individual Commercial: The number of holders of commercial individual coverage increased to 711,000, from 692,000.
  • Medicare Advantage: Enrollment increased to 1.2 million, from 992,000.
  • Medicare Supplement: The number of insureds increased to 893,000, from 846,000.
  • Self-Funded Employer Plans: The number of covered people increased to 25.4 million, from 25.3 million.
  • Fully Insured Employer Plans: The number of covered people increased to 16 million, from 15 million.
  • Dental: The number of covered people increased to 5.9 million, from 5.8 million.
  • Vision: The number of covered people increased to 7.2 million, from 6.9 million.
  • Life and Disability: The number of covered people increased to 5 million, from 4.7 million.

The Market

Anthem President Gail Boudreaux said the company expects another solid year of membership growth.

“We anticipate another strong year of national account growth,” Boudreaux said.

Pete Haytaian, president of Anthem’s commercial and specialty business division, said the fully insured group health marketplace continues to be “competitive marketplace.”

But “it remains a rational marketplace,” Haytaian said.

Insurance company executives typically describe a market as competitive when most players are charging high enough premiums to turn a profit.

“Some markets have a bit of inertia, ” Haytaian said. “ A little bit more than we expected…. Retention rates are really, really strong for us and for our competitors.”

Anthem’s sales close ratios are improving, Haytaian said.

“But we’re seeing a little bit less movement in the marketplace,” Haytaian said. “A little bit more stickiness with the membership.”

The annual enrollment period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D drug plans started Oct. 15.

Felicia Norwood, president of Anthem’s government business division, said distributors seem to like Anthem’s new Medicare plans.

 

Resources

Links to information about Anthem’s earnings announcement are available here.

— Read The Second Quarter Was, Actually, OK: Life and Health Execson ThinkAdvisor.

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