UnitedHealth to buy most of Brazil’s Amil for $4.9 billion

NEW YORK, Mon Oct 8, 2012 – UnitedHealth Group Inc said it would buy a 90 percent stake in Amil Participacoes SA, Brazil’s largest health insurer and hospital operator, for $4.9 billion, tapping into a fast-growing private healthcare market as challenges mount for its U.S. business.

The deal announced on Monday follows a series of multibillion-dollar takeovers by U.S. health insurers in their home market, including Aetna Inc.’s $5.6 billion buy of rival Coventry Health Care Inc. and WellPoint Inc.’s planned $4.5 billion purchase of Amerigroup Corp.

“(Brazil’s) growing economy, emerging middle class and progressive policies toward managed care make it a high- potential growth market,” UnitedHealth Chief Executive Stephen Hemsley said in a statement.

U.S. health insurers have come under pressure as the government reins in reimbursement for its Medicaid and Medicare programs for the poor and the elderly and as competition grows among health plans serving employers.

The deal with Amil adds to a growing international business at UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. health insurer. The company has begun operations or struck alliances in Australia, the Middle East and the UK during the past two years.

Buying the stake in Amil gives UnitedHealth a chance to test a different model of medical service: Amil offers insurance coverage and also runs hospitals and doctor facilities. While some examples of this already exist in the United States, the largest U.S. insurance companies for the most part operate separately from networks of doctors and other healthcare providers.

UnitedHealth profit beats estimates as plans grow

MINNETONKA, Minn., Thu Jul 19, 2012 – UnitedHealth Group Inc. reported an increase of about 6 percent in quarterly profit on Thursday, beating analysts’ estimates, as most of its insurance plans grew and medical claim costs remained stable.
The biggest U.S. health insurer by market value also slightly raised its forecast for full-year earnings, and was the first insurer to report results since the Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama’s healthcare law late last month.
UnitedHealth’s shares rose 2 percent to $57.49 in premarket trading.
Shares of large health insurers have underperformed the broader market since the landmark ruling on the law, which more tightly regulates the industry and adds new fees.
Investors have also been wary about the industry after a spotty first quarter earnings season, in which several top companies – though not UnitedHealth – reported profits short of analyst estimates.
The second-quarter report from UnitedHealth, considered a bellwether because of its size and diversity of plans, “should calm investor fear given the tumultuous (first quarter) peppered by misses by most of UNH peers,” Sanford Bernstein analyst Ana Gupte said in a research note.
UnitedHealth’s second-quarter net income rose to $1.34 billion, or $1.27 per share, from $1.27 billion, or $1.16 per share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected it to earn $1.19 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue grew 8 percent to $27.3 billion.

UnitedHealth to keep reform provisions, regardless of Supreme Court ruling

NEW YORK,| Mon Jun 11, 2012 – UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer by market value, said it would maintain the health coverage protections included in President Barack Obama’s healthcare law regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the legislation.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide later this month whether to strike down all or portions of the law, Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement that was passed in 2010.

The provisions UnitedHealth will maintain include continuing to provide coverage for dependents up to age 26 under their parents’ plan.

The company will also continue to offer certain preventive healthcare services without requiring a co-payment, which include annual check-ups, screening for high-blood pressure and diabetes, and immunizations.

UnitedHealth will also continue to forgo lifetime dollar coverage limits on policies.

“The protections we are voluntarily extending are good for people’s health, promote broader access to quality care and contribute to helping control rising health care costs,” UnitedHealth Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley said in a statement. “These provisions make sense for the people we serve and it is important to ensure they know these provisions will continue.”

The other provisions to be maintained include providing clear ways for members to appeal coverage claim decisions; and the elimination of rescissions, which are generally considered to be retroactive policy cancellations, except in the case of fraud.

UnitedHealth profit tops views as enrollment rises

MINNETONKA, Minn. ― UnitedHealth Group Inc. posted a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, helped by increased membership across its array of health plans.

The largest U.S. health insurer by market value also backed its 2012 earnings forecast, which includes the potential for a decline in profit but which many analysts have seen as conservative. Shares rose 1.4 percent.

“As the bellwether and first to report, UnitedHealth results bode well for managed care earnings season,” Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Borsch said in a research note.

UnitedHealth’s quarterly net income rose to $1.26 billion, or $1.17 per share, compared with $1.04 billion, or 94 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting $1.04 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 8 percent to $25.92 billion, about $230 million ahead of estimates.

“It was a solid fourth-quarter, nicely ahead of consensus,” Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Chris Rigg said. “I don’t think the results will be particularly surprising to the investment community.”

Membership increased to about 34.6 million, up 5 percent. The company reported gains in its Medicare plans for the elderly and Medicaid plans for low-income Americans, as well as in its commercial plans serving employers.

“Enrollment growth remained strong, across the board,” Leerink Swann analyst Jason Gurda said.

UnitedHealth Group to buy Medicare specialist XLHealth

MINNETONKA, Minn. ―  UnitedHealth Group Inc. plans to acquire privately held XLHealth Corp in the health insurance industry’s latest deal involving Medicare plans for the elderly.

XLHealth, which is owned by private equity firm MatlinPatterson, specializes in plans for Medicare recipients with special needs, including chronic illness, and those low-income beneficiaries who also receive Medicaid government coverage.

The parties did not disclose the deal price, but UnitedHealth said it expected to close the acquisition in the first half of next year and that it would add to earnings.

Bloomberg News, citing anonymous sources, previously reported that UnitedHealth, along with rivals WellPoint Inc and Aetna Inc , were weighing bids for XLHealth potentially valued at $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

XLHealth serves about 113,000 Medicare Advantage plan members in six U.S. states and is expanding into six more next year. It estimates its 2012 revenue will exceed $2 billion.

UnitedHealth is already one of the largest providers of Medicare Advantage plans, with 2.2 million members at the end of September. It expects total revenue to exceed $101 billion this year.

Medicare is an enticing market for U.S. health insurers, as the entry of the postwar baby boom generation into retirement looks to swell the ranks of privately run Medicare Advantage plans.

Such plans now account for 25 percent of Medicare enrollment, compared with 75 percent for government-run plans, but analysts expect that percentage to rise. Medicare beneficiaries can choose to receive their benefits through private health insurance plans.

Last month, Cigna Corp struck a deal to buy HealthSpring Inc for $3.8 billion to jump-start its business selling Medicare plans.