Anthem CEO optimistic about Medicare Advantage going into second half of 2018

Anthem stressed its strengths in Medicare and local markets during its second-quarter earnings call. (Getty Images/champc)

Anthem emphasized its growth in the Medicare market in its second-quarter earnings call on Wednesday morning, with CEO Gail Boudreaux calling the company “very bullish” about Medicare Advantage (MA) going forward.

The Indianapolis-based insurer said it has done well in picking up recent retirees from the commercial market. Namely, it said, its Blue Cross and Blue Shield members have stuck with Anthem plans as they move to MA—some remaining customers for 30 years—though it’s picked up some membership from competitors as well.

More than 70% of Anthem’s MA members are in plans with a four- or five-star rating, and it currently has five five-star plans—more than any other insurer—the company noted.

Anthem attributed its strong performance within Medicare to its leadership, infrastructure, and branding, including within its subsidiary CareMore.

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Medicare Advantage has a been a significant moneymaker for many of the large insurers. A study last year showed that Medicare and Medicaid plans accounted for 59% of revenue among the five largest insurers. During the first quarter of 2018, Aetna, UnitedHealth and Humana reported strong financial earnings thanks to MA plans. 

Anthem also stressed its local market engagement. It offers plans in just 14 commercial markets this year, and it will likely only expand into other counties in 2019 rather than into additional states. But in doing so, it says it can strengthen its presence and performance in those markets and create some stability. 

Anthem's reduced footprint in the ACA market largely caused its overall decline in membership; the drop was softened by its strength on the government side. 

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Focusing on local engagement also makes Anthem “uniquely positioned” to meet the needs of its dual-eligible population, leadership said.

Boudreaux concluded the call by saying Anthem “remains focused on improving the quality and value of the healthcare solutions we bring to our members” while delivering for its shareholders.

Anthem executives did not address the company's policy of denying coverage for nonurgent ER visits, which has been the source of controversy following the release of a report about the policy from Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.