KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

WellPoint’s Profits Fall On Investments In Health Law Plans

Still, the company, which is closely watched because it is a big provider of plans to individuals on the law's marketplaces, beat analysts' expectations and raised its outlook for the year. Also out are earnings statements from hospital giant HCA and Express Scripts.

The Wall Street Journal: WellPoint Profit Declines On Higher Expenses
WellPoint Inc. on Wednesday said its first-quarter profit shrank 21 percent, as the health insurer's higher expenses offset a rise in revenue. The company raised its outlook for the year, predicting adjusted earnings above $8.40 a share and operating revenue above $73.5 billion. ... WellPoint in January said the people enrolling in new health-law plans are skewing older than its previous individual consumers, but they appeared to match the less-healthy pool the company predicted when it set its prices. The insurer's experience is being closely watched because of its big position in the new government marketplaces. The Indianapolis company has been one of the biggest providers of individual plans and is selling them through the government marketplaces in more than a dozen states (Rubin, 4/30).

Reuters: WellPoint Says First-Quarter Profit Fell On Reform Costs
WellPoint Inc, the second-largest U.S. health insurer, said on Wednesday that first-quarter profit fell, largely because of investment spending related to healthcare reform and the higher administrative costs of adding new commercial customers. WellPoint, which runs Anthem and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, reported net income of $701 million, or $2.40 per share, down from $885 million, or $2.89 per share, a year earlier. As in Aetna Inc's report last week, earnings beat analysts' expectations (Humer, 4/30).

The Wall Street Journal: HCA Profit Edges Up; Health-Care Reform Has Minimal Impact
HCA Holdings Inc. said its first-quarter earnings rose 0.9 percent as the hospital operator reported stronger revenue. "We are pleased with results for the first quarter," Chief Executive R. Milton Johnson said. "As expected, health-care reform had minimal impact on the company's first quarter results; however, we remain optimistic regarding the potential long-term benefits" (Stynes, 4/29).

Reuters:  HCA Sees Encouraging Signs But No Health Reform Benefit Yet
HCA Holdings Inc on Tuesday reported quarterly earnings just shy of analysts' expectations, and its top executive said the U.S. hospital chain had not yet benefited from President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law. HCA, the largest U.S. for-profit hospital operator, said first-quarter net income rose to $347 million, or 76 cents a share, from $344 million, or 74 cents a share, a year earlier (Kelly, 4/29).

The Associated Press: Express Scripts Profit Falls In 1Q On Lower Sales
The nation’s largest pharmacy benefits manager scaled back its 2014 earnings guidance to between $4.82 and $4.94 per share, citing several customer delays which pushed back implementation of service to early 2015 from mid-2014. The company had previously forecast earnings in the range of $4.88 to $5 per share. Company shares fell 5 percent in after-hours trading (4/29).

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