KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

HCA’s Profits Up, Cigna’s Down, As Patients Use More Services

News outlets pointed out that "after a long slump," patients have been seeking more care.

The Wall Street Journal: Cigna Profit Declines 10%, Full-Year View Raised
Earnings were slightly below the level analysts expected in the quarter, despite a boost from claims reserves that weren't needed in prior periods, although Cigna said it topped its own forecast. ... Like other insurers, Cigna has been projecting patients will start using health care services more after a long slump. The company in its release noted its latest guidance reflects, in part, an "expected increase in medical services utilization during 2012" (Kamp, 5/3).

MarketWatch: HCA Profit Soars On Higher Patient Volumes
HCA Holdings Inc.'s first-quarter earnings soared as the hospital operator saw revenue jump from an increase in patient volumes and adjustments related to Medicare payments. ... HCA, like other health-related companies, faces pressure from tighter government budgets and consumers who have been delaying doctor visits and medical procedures. But last month the company, which is the largest private-sector hospital operator in the U.S., said same-facility admissions were edging up, resulting in higher-than-expected first-quarter revenue (Jones, 5/3).

Los Angeles Times: Health Net Shares Tumble 25% As It Posts Loss, Lowers Forecast
The company surprised analysts and investors by disclosing an additional $67 million in medical claims that hadn't been reported in the fourth quarter because of errors in processing claims. Health Net said outside vendors that handle those claims for the company experienced problems with a new industrywide billing format (Terhune, 5/4).

MarketWatch: Health Net Swings To Loss As Claims Surge
The company had benefited from improved premium revenue and higher Medicaid enrollment, but its top line has declined in recent quarters on a sharp drop in government contract revenue. Health Net has also been on a buying spree of late in an effort to bulk up on senior-focused plans as baby boomers age (Warner, 5/3).

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