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UnitedHealth's headquarters building in Minnetonka, Minnesota. (Photo: Mike Bradley/Bloomberg)

Life Health > Health Insurance > Medicare Planning

UnitedHealth Announces Strong Q2 Earnings as New COVID-19 Wave Hits

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What You Need to Know

  • UnitedHealth is the first life, health or annuity issuer to report earnings for the second quarter.
  • Revenue, operating earnings and net earnings were all up.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations have been increasing, but patients have still been getting ordinary care.

A big health insurer sees early signs that, even if COVID-19 is causing an increase in hospitalizations this summer, the impact of that surge might be relatively mild.

Executives at UnitedHealth Group —  a major Medicare plan provider — talked about the surge Friday, during a conference call the company held to go over earnings for the second quarter with securities analysts.

COVID-19 case counts and hospital admissions fell sharply in the middle of the first quarter and stayed low early in the second quarter.

Chief financial officer John Rex told analysts that UnitedHealth has seen rising pandemic-related hospital admissions in recent weeks.

“But we’re seeing a lower average length of stay compared with earlier periods,” Rex said.

In the past, UnitedHealth saw any increases in pandemic-related care crowding out ordinary types of preventive and routine care and, possibly, endangering patients’ health.

Now, older patients still seem to be getting important preventive care, Rex said.

But Rex noted that UnitedHealth recognizes that medical cost trends could change quickly.

“We will continue to position our offerings accordingly,” Rex aid. “Our primary intent is to ensure people are getting care they need and to help in that process as much as we can.”

What It Means

If the trends UnitedHealth is seeing continue, it’s possible that most of the cases of COVID-19 your clients are getting right now will be relatively mild.

The Earnings

The second quarter ended June 30.

UnitedHealth is reporting $5.2 billion in net income for the quarter on $80 billion in revenue, up from $4.3 billion in net income on $71 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2021.

Operating earnings at the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company increased to $7.1 billion, from $6 billion.

The company ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 51.2 million people, up from 49.6 million people a year earlier.

Medicare Advantage plan enrollment increased to 6.9 million, from 6.4 million.

The number of people with UnitedHealth Medicare supplement insurance coverage held steady at about 4.4 million.

UnitedHealth’s headquarters building in Minnetonka, Minnesota. (Photo: Mike Bradley/Bloomberg)