UnitedHealth Group, the biggest commercial health insurer, stands to take a $4 billion hit to its public exchange business now that the company is pulling back from nearly three dozen states, according to the company’s just released annual report.
In its annual 10K form filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, UnitedHealth said it would only participate in three public exchange markets in 2017, compared with 34 in 2016. The company says it will insure 1 million fewer exchange policyholders this year.
In 2015, UnitedHealth wrote public exchange business in 11 states, expanded to 34 in 2016 and has now cut back to three: Nevada, New York and through its UnitedHealthcare of the Mid Atlantic Inc. subsidiary.
UnitedHealth didn’t provide any commentary on its public exchange business on its recent fourth quarter earnings call with stock analysts or on its year-end SEC filing.
For the year ended Dec. 31, UnitedHealth reported:
- Revenue increased year over year 17.6% to $184.80 billion in 2016 from $157.10 billion in 2015.
- Net earnings were $7.29 billion in 2016 compared with $5.81 billion in 2015.
The major commercial health insurers—including UnitedHealth, Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp. and Anthem Inc.—all have adopted a wait-and-see attitude about cutting back or getting out altogether on the public exchange market. But actual numbers on financial performance have been hard to come by. UnitedHealth breaks out some numbers in its annual reports.
Cigna does not break out numbers. Anthem on its fourth quarter earnings call didn’t break out numbers but noted its pubic exchange business in 2016 expected a “mid-single-digit loss.” For 2016 Aetna lost $450 million on its public exchange business, including $100 million more in the fourth quarter than in the prior-year quarter, Aetna says. The company didn’t break out a yearly comparison.