Humana said its private Medicare Advantage business is on a roll as seniors flock to additional health benefits and care coordination.
The addition of more than 400,000 Medicare Advantage enrollees helped boost Humana first quarter profits and figure in the company’s decision Wednesday to raise its earnings outlook to the rest of the year to a range of $17.25 to $17.50 per share.
“Each day, more and more seniors are choosing Medicare Advantage, a program that today has over 22 million members, demonstrating the compelling value of a program that delivers affordable, quality care for seniors and improved clinical outcomes as payers and providers work together to understand each member’s whole health and help them navigate the complex healthcare system,” Humana president and chief executive officer Bruce Broussard said.
During a 60-minute conference call Wednesday morning to discuss Humana’s earnings, Broussard said Humana opposes Medicare for All proposals that don’t include privatized Medicare Advantage.
The U.S. House of Representatives began hearings this week on Medicare for All including a proposal that would eliminate the private health insurer’s role in the Medicare program. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and some other Democrats running for president also favor expanding Medicare to all Americans and phasing out the health insurer’s role.
But Broussard pointed to Humana’s own Medicare Advantage business as reason a public-private partnership is the way to go in expanding health insurance coverage to more Americans. “The end goal of our strategy is to slow the rising cost of healthcare and enable the expansion of coverage,” Broussard told analysts on a call Wednesday morning to discuss first quarter earnings.
Broussard said Medicare Advantage allows for the insurer and doctors to take a “holistic view” of the health plan member and their “complex and chronic conditions.” Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans include primary care, home health and are increasingly addressing social determinants of health, Broussard said.
The arguments of Sanders and supporters of single-payer Medicare are up against a tide of seniors picking private plans and new rules from the Trump administration that have gradually changed regulations to allow private insurers to expand Medicare Advantage and offer more benefits.
Humana’s individual Medicare Advantage membership jumped 14% to 3.4 million as of March 31. That was an increase of 414,800 from 3 million as of the end of the first quarter of last year and the Medicare Advantage enrollment was up 369,300, or 12 percent, from 3,064,000 as of December 31, 2018, the company said.
Thanks to the Medicare Advantage performance, Humana reported first quarter profits of $746 million, or $4.16 a share. That compares to $707 million, or $3.53 a share, in the first quarter of last year.
Date: May 02, 2019