UnitedHealth’s first-quarter profit leaped about 44%, and the nation’s largest health insurer also increased its 2021 outlook despite expecting more hits from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company stated that the performance of its Optum unit was particularly powerful.
- UnitedHealth reared its full-year profit prediction to adjusted incomes of $18.10 to $18.60 per share, up from an outlook of $17.75 to $18.25 per share that it debuted in December. The new range mostly topped the ordinary analyst forecast of $18.19 per share, according to FactSet. That forecast continued to include a potential downside of $1.80 per share from the ongoing pandemic.
- Patients started returning to doctors’ offices and registering more surgical procedures toward the end of last year after putting off medical care for months during the pandemic. That returned a bit of ordinariness for UnitedHealth and other insurers, and it added more medical costs to their income announcements.
- UnitedHealth assumes this inclination to maintain. Chief Financial Officer John Rex told analysts that they expected to feel most of COVID’s impression from that return of care in the second half of the year. The company also said COVID-19 testing and treatment activity was greater than assumed during the first quarter, but the flu season was well below average.
- UnitedHealth is the first insurer to report profits every quarter, and analysts see it as an indicator for the sector. The company brings in most of its resources through its UnitedHealthcare insurance department. Enrollment there grew by about a million people to nearly 49.5 million since the end of last year. UnitedHealth also has been handling its Optum division for growth. That business encompasses one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit managers as well as a growing number of clinics, urgent care, and surgery centers.