Earnings for UnitedHealth Increase 30%, Forecast Increased

Earnings for the second-quarter at UnitedHealth Group were up by 30% driven by growth in its Optum business, and the largest insurer in the country raised its forecast for 2017 again.

The company, which is based on the outskirts of Minneapolis, announced on Tuesday that it is now expecting its adjusted earnings for 2017 will be $9.75 to $9.90 a share. That is up from an adjustment to the forecast in April of between $9.65 and $9.85.

Analysts were expecting UnitedHealth earnings for the year to be $9.80.

For the quarter, UnitedHealth saw its earnings climbed to just over $2.28 billion, with adjusted per share earnings of $2.46. Total revenue increased by close to 8% to end the quarter at $50.04 billion.

Analysts were expecting earnings per share of $2.38 with revenue of just over $50.02 billion.

The health insurance provider took a charge in the same quarter last year when losses due to coverage that was linked to Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act were more than $200 million higher than projected.

UnitedHealth jumped quickly into the state-based ACA insurance exchanges that allowed people to buy their own individual policies with help from a tax credit based on income.

However, the insurer pulled back quickly after the losses started to pile up in that part of its business.

At this point, UnitedHealth sells coverage on state exchanges in just three states, which is down from the 34 states it sold them in during 2016.

The UnitedHealth Group took a hit in revenue due to withdrawing from the exchanges.

In general, health insurers have been struggling to earn money from the exchanges, and national competitors such as Aetna, Anthem and Humana also have been pulling back from the exchange markets.

UnitedHealth’s biggest business is health insurance, but it has focused more on its business Optum, which provides technology and pharmacy benefits management services and operates doctor’s offices and clinics.

The operating earnings at Optum grew close to 21% during the just ended quarter to end at more than $1.5 billion.

UnitedHealth is the first insurer for healthcare to announce each quarter its earnings. Many investors and analysts see it as the bellwether for most other insurers.

Earnings season for the 2017 second quarter are in full stride with over 68 members of the S&P 500 reporting earnings this week.