What You Need to Know
- The hospice admissions drop was under 5%.
- Some of the decline was due to a drop in post-acute care facility volumes.
- Medicare Advantage membership increased to about 5 million, from 4.6 million a year earlier.
The COVID-19 pandemic killed enough terminally ill people in the fourth quarter of 2021, and in all of 2021, that it had a small but noticeable effect on hospice admissions volumes, according to Humana executives.
The executives mentioned that grim effect of the pandemic Wednesday on a conference call the company held to go over earnings for the fourth quarter of 2021 with securities analysts.
The Louisville, Kentucky-based health insurer became actively involved in providing hospice services in August, when it acquired complete control of Kindred at Home, the largest U.S. home health and hospice provider, from joint venture partners.
Bruce Broussard, Humana’s CEO, noted on the analyst call that the company is working to sell a majority stake in the hospice business to another owner or owners.
Susan Diamond, Humana’s chief financial officer, said the integration of the Kindred at Homes operations is on track, despite the impact of the pandemic.
Home health care services admissions were up in the “low single digits,” or somewhere under 5%, between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2021 and between all of 2020 and all of 2021, Diamond said.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, “hospice experienced a low single-digit decline as compared to the fourth quarter of 2020,” and, for all of 2021, “hospice admissions were down low single single digits, year-over-year,” she added.
“It is important to note that hospice volumes have been impacted by the higher mortality rates driven by COVID, as well as by lower post-acute facility volumes,” Diamond said.
Humana is reporting a $13 million net loss for the fourth quarter of 2021 on $21 billion in revenue, compared with a $274 million net loss on $19 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020.
Operating income, which excludes a variety of unusual gains and charges, increased to $61 million. For the year-earlier quarter, the company recorded a $346 million operating loss.
Humana ended 2021 providing or administering health coverage for 17 million people, up from 16.8 million people a year earlier.
Medicare Advantage plan enrollment increased to about 5 million, from 4.6 million.
Full insured commercial plan enrollment fell 9.8%, to 1 million.
Humana did not provide the number of people served by its Home Solutions unit, which includes the hospice business, but it said it generated $982 million in Home Solutions revenue in the latest quarter.