KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Humana’s Profit Shrinks On Higher Expenses

The insurer said it expects to add more customers to its Medicare Advantage and individual plan businesses. Meanwhile, a few hospitals say they are doing simple surgeries for some uninsured patients for free to keep their problems from turning into emergencies that would be more expensive to treat, and those who developed meningitis as a result of tainted products seek compensation.

The Wall Street Journal: Humana Earnings Shrink On Higher Costs; Results Top Views
Humana Inc. said first-quarter profit shrank 22 percent as the Medicare-focused insurer's higher expenses offset its improved revenue. Still, revenue and earnings came in well above analysts' forecasts. Humana and its peers face shrinking government funding for Medicare Advantage plans, which are the private industry's version of the health plan for the elderly and disabled. Humana is more tethered to these plans than any other big insurers, making its ability to manage lower payments while guarding profit margins a significant issue (Rubin, 5/7).

Reuters:  Humana Sees 2014 Medicare Advantage, Exchange Customer Growth 
Managed care company Humana Inc said on Wednesday that it expects to add more customers to its Medicare Advantage plans in 2014 despite government cuts to funding and that its individual business will grow through new Obamacare plans. Humana, whose first-quarter profit beat analyst expectations but still fell as it spent more on marketing and investments related to new products, said it will add 435,000 people this year to Medicare Advantage plans (5/7).

Marketplace: Hospitals Save Money By Doing Surgery For Free
Across the country, a few hospitals have come up with a counterintuitive way to save themselves money: offer minor surgery for free. To understand how that’s possible, consider the case of 32-year-old Lammon Green, a caretaker for the developmentally disabled in Macon, Georgia. He’s a really cheerful guy, but he’s been bothered for a long time by a cyst behind his ear. “It’s been kind of giving me problems for the last few years,” he said. “It gets to about the size of a lemon when it gets infected.” Most people would get something like that cut off pronto, but Green doesn’t have insurance (Ragusea, 5/6).

The Associated Press: Settlement Seeks $100M Fund For Meningitis Victims
A settlement filed with a federal bankruptcy judge would create a fund of more than $100 million to compensate victims of a nationwide meningitis outbreak linked to a Massachusetts pharmacy, lawyers said Tuesday (5/6).

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