Feb 5 U.S. health insurer Humana Inc
said on Wednesday that it had received 202,000 applications
through Jan. 31 for 2014 Obamacare health insurance plans in the
14 states where it offers them.
Humana made the disclosure as it reported a fourth-quarter
loss due to a $243 million charge to set aside financial
reserves for a group of long-term care policies that it no
President Barack Obama's national healthcare reform law,
often called Obamacare, set up state-based insurance exchanges
to allow individuals to buy policies with income-based
Enrollment in exchange products has been hampered by
technology problems both with HealthCare.gov, the online
marketplace for 36 states, and in some of the other 14 states
that run their own sites.
In addition, the U.S. government's decision to allow some
old policies to be extended has cut into demand. On Monday, the
Congressional Budget Office lowered its estimate for total
exchange enrollment to 6 million. The government has said about
3 million people have signed up so far.
Humana's application rate compares with the 400,000 people
that competitor WellPoint Inc said it had signed up on
the exchanges when it announced results last month. That company
is also in 14 states.
For 2014, Humana said it expected its total individual
membership, which also includes plans sold to people outside the
exchanges, to be flat to up 100,000.
Besides health plans, Humana also provides dental, vision
and other supplemental health and financial products. Most of
its revenue comes from the sale of private Medicare plans.
Humana said that it still expected to spend 50 cents to 90
cents per share on investment and startup expenses for new
state-based Medicaid contracts and the state-based insurance
exchanges this year, affirming details it gave in January.
The company also backed its 2014 earnings outlook, also
presented in January, of $7.25 to $7.75 per share, compared with
$7.73 in 2013.
LOSS REFLECTS POLICYHOLDER COSTS
Humana reported a fourth-quarter loss of $30 million, or 19
cents per share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $192
million, or $1.19 per share.
Excluding the 99-cent-per-share expense, the company would
have posted a profit of 80 cents per share. On that basis,
analysts were expecting earnings of 94 cents, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose to $10.19 billion from $9.56 billion as the
company's individual and Medicare businesses signed up more
The company spent 85.8 percent of its policy premiums on
benefits, up from 83.7 percent a year earlier, due primarily to
the $243 million set aside to strengthen reserves in that closed
block of long-term care policies that it took on in 2007 with
the acquisition of KMG America.
Humana said it had adjusted the reserves to reflect
policyholder longevity, increased in-home healthcare use and
lower interest rates.
During the quarter, Humana said, costs increased in its
retail segment because of spending on the exchanges and Medicaid
contracts as well as some higher marketing expenses for new