Home Medizin UnitedHealth-Aktien fallen, da höhere medizinische Kosten den Gewinnschlag überschatten

UnitedHealth-Aktien fallen, da höhere medizinische Kosten den Gewinnschlag überschatten

von NFI Redaktion

(Reuters) – UnitedHealth stock fell by 4% on Friday after the healthcare conglomerate’s medical services costs exceeded Wall Street expectations for the first time in two years, despite the company surpassing fourth-quarter profit and revenue estimates.

According to UnitedHealth, costs increased towards the end of the year as older Americans sought vaccinations for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and received additional medical services. As COVID-19 cases increased around the holidays, hospital admissions also rose, and per-patient spending exceeded normal levels.

The industry leader’s results led to a decline in the stocks of other insurers, including CVS Health and Humana, each dropping by about 3%.

In the fall of 2023, RSV vaccines became a new issue for insurers, as Pfizer and GSK introduced the first vaccinations for people over 60.

„Seniors responded very strongly to RSV vaccinations and scheduled doctor visits,“ said John Rex, CFO of UnitedHealth.

In December, COVID-related admissions were „50 to 60% above the average of October and November,“ he said.

CEO Andrew Witty stated that UnitedHealth stands by its forecast for 2024 medical costs released in November, adding that the company does not expect the spending levels at the end of 2023 to persist this year.

However, analysts questioned whether the reaffirmed goal adequately explained the rising expenditure trend.

UnitedHealth and its competitors face reimbursement pressure over the next three years as the government introduces lower reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage, privately led health insurance for people over 65.

„Perhaps there is not as much upside potential in the 2024 forecast as in the past,“ said Jeff Jonas, portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds.

Morningstar analyst Julie Utterback suggested that the increase in medical costs towards the end of the year could also be a concern for the company’s competitors.

UnitedHealth reaffirmed its forecast that the medical cost ratio – the percentage of premiums spent on medical care – will be between 83.5% and 84.5% in 2024, compared to expectations of 83.29%.

The company’s ratio was 85% in the fourth quarter, exceeding 82.8% in the previous year. Analysts had expected 83.88%.

The company’s medical costs for the full year of 2023 were 83.2%, up from 82% in 2022 but in line with UnitedHealth’s own target.

The company reported an adjusted earnings per share of $6.16 in the fourth quarter, compared to an estimate of $5.98 per share.

Total revenue amounted to $94.43 billion, surpassing analysts‘ average estimate of $92.16 billion.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija and Christy Santhosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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