U.S. govt sets 3.40 pct hike in 2019 payments to Medicare insurers

April 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Monday said it would increase by 3.40 percent on average 2019 payments to the health insurers that manage Medicare Advantage insurance plans for more than 20 million people aged 65 and older or who are disabled.

The rate, which affects how much insurers charge for monthly healthcare premiums, plan benefits and, ultimately, how much they profit, represents an increase over the 1.84 percent increase proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in February.

UnitedHealth Group Inc, Humana Inc, Aetna Inc and WellCare Health Plans Inc are the largest sellers of Medicare Advantage health insurance. Under the program, they are paid a set rate by the government to cover member healthcare costs. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot in New York Editing by James Dalgleish)