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UnitedHealth Execs Happy With 2020 Medicare Advantage Numbers

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UnitedHealth Group Inc. posted great Medicare Advantage plans sales in the fourth quarter of 2019, company executives said Wednesday.

The executives held the call to go over the company’s fourth-quarter earnings.

David Wichmann, UnitedHealth’s chief executive officer, described the company’s Medicare Advantage annual enrollment period results as the company’s “strongest ever.”

(Related: Commercial Health Insurance Gains at UnitedHealth)

The Medicare Advantage annual enrollment period lasts from Nov. 1 through Dec. 7 each year.

At the Medicare Advantage plans, “we expect to serve nearly 700,000 more people in 2020,” Wichmann said.

Wichmann did not say how many people now UnitedHealth Medicare plan coverage. In the first quarter of 2019, the company had about 5.2 million Medicare Advantage plan enrollees.

The Medicare Advantage enrollment growth figure includes people who have group Medicare Advantage plan coverage and people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, in addition to people with ordinary individual Medicare Advantage plan coverage.

UnitedHealth executives also talked briefly about the effects of influenza on company performance.

Wyatt Decker, the chief executive officer for the company’s OptumHealth unit, said the company has done the usual kinds of flu modeling.

The company has not seen a big difference between actual flu claims and expected claims for the fourth quarter, “and we do not anticipate a significant impact in Q1,” Decker said.

The number of flu cases has been high, but most of the cases are the result of the B strain, which is typically not as severe as A strain flu, Decker said.

The company also has an urgent care business, and extra flu-related revenue there could help offset the effects of an increase in flu-related health insurance claims, Decker said.

— Read The New Earnings Season Starts Wednesday, on ThinkAdvisor.

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