On Thursday, UnitedHealth Group -- the nation's largest health insurer -- reported a 3.1% increase in first-quarter earnings, along with a 7.3% rise in revenue and more than one million new members, the Wall Street Journal reports.
For the quarter, UnitedHealth's earnings increased to $1.39 billion, compared with $1.35 billion in Q1 2011. Meanwhile, Q1 2012 revenue increased to $27.23 billion (Kamp, Wall Street Journal, 4/19). The company announced that price increases for medical care led to a more than 6% increase -- to about $20 billion -- in medical costs, its biggest expense.
According to the AP/New York Times, health insurers have been reporting strong figures over the past several quarters because of the slow growth in health care.
UnitedHealth officials also raised its earnings forecast for the year to between $4.80 and $4.95 per share, up from between $4.60 to $4.80 per share. The insurer said it expects revenue to fall between $109 billion and $110 billion (AP/New York Times, 4/19).