Health insurer Humana beats profit estimates on lower medical costs

(Reuters) - Humana Inc HUM.N beat quarterly profit estimates and reaffirmed its full-year forecast on Wednesday, as the U.S. health insurer benefited from patients delaying non-emergency medical procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The delay of elective procedures has helped health insurers navigate the pandemic, although bigger players including UnitedHealth UNH.N and Anthem ANTM.N have warned of rising costs later this year as Americans catch up on these surgeries.

Humana’s consolidated benefit ratio, the percentage of premiums spent on claims, improved to 76.4% in the quarter from 84.4% last year. Analysts were expecting a ratio of 80.56%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Retail sales, the company’s biggest revenue generator which includes Medicare plans offered to people older than 65 or those with disabilities, rose 19.8% to $16.96 billion in the second quarter as it added 392,700 more members, bringing the total to 3,877,200.

Excluding items, Humana earned $12.56 per share, beating analysts’ estimates of $10.27 per share and said it continues to expect full-year adjusted profit to be in the range of $18.25 to $18.75.

Net income rose to $1.83 billion, or $13.75 per share in the second quarter, from $940 million, or $6.94 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue jumped 17.5% to $19.08 billion, topping Wall Street’s expectations of $18.63 billion.

Reporting By Mrinalika Roy and Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel