KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

WellPoint Profits Up 38% As Insurer Girds For Big Changes In 2013

WellPoint's 4th quarter earnings surged even as the company offered a cautious outlook for 2013 as it prepares to sell policies in new online health insurance marketplaces and expands its Medicare Advantage business.

Los Angeles Times: WellPoint's 4th Quarter Profit Jumps
But the company said it remains cautious about the year ahead in light of federal budget battles over Medicare and Medicaid and upheaval in the health insurance markets from the federal Affordable Care Act. WellPoint estimated full-year earnings of $7.60 a share, below analysts' expectations of $7.94 a share compiled by FactSet. The Indianapolis company said the search is still underway for a new CEO to replace Angela Braly, who stepped down in August after major shareholders expressed dissatisfaction with the company's performance (Terhune, 1/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: WellPoint 4th Quarter Profit Jumps 38 Percent; Insurer Says Costs Could Weigh On 2013 Performance
WellPoint Inc.'s fourth-quarter earnings jumped 38 percent compared to the final quarter of 2011, when the nation’s second largest health insurer incurred a big hit from its Medicare Advantage business (1/23).

The Wall Street Journal: WellPoint Earnings Rise 38% Amid Light Commercial Costs
Health insurers are preparing for the planned opening of state-based exchanges for individuals and small businesses. People will be able to seek plans there for coverage starting in 2014, potentially putting millions of new members in play for health insurers. Meantime, the industry is also aiming to add business as states expand Medicaid coverage under the health law and create new plans to cover high-cost people on Medicaid and Medicare, known as dual eligibles. WellPoint recently closed on a $4.46 billion purchase of Medicaid insurer Amerigroup to help chase the emerging dual-eligible market while lessening its tilt toward individual and small-group markets, which are considered most exposed to the exchanges (Kamp, 1/23).

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