Aetna's Q4 profits soar 73%, Cigna's earnings drop

Aetna's fourth-quarter profit rose sharply as a result of its members using few healthcare services, while Cigna's profits dropped.

Aetna said Wednesday its earnings increased by 73 percent and its net income rose to $372.6 million compared to $215.6 million last year. The insurer's fourth-quarter operating income also rose 39 percent to $354.3 million from $255 million a year before, reported the Hartford Courant.

"During 2011, we made strategic investments in acquisitions and technologies that created a unique set of capabilities to both extend Aetna's core health business and poise us to capitalize on exciting new consumer and provider opportunities emerging in the marketplace," said Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini.

Cigna, however, didn't fare as well when it posted its fourth quarter results Thursday. The insurer's quarterly earnings dropped 37 percent as its net income fell to $290 million from $461 million a year earlier, reported the Associated Press.

The good news was that earnings from Cigna's healthcare division rose 4 percent to $216 million, and its membership grew by about 900,000 members to a total of 11.48 million members, Reuters reported.

Revenue from Cigna's international business increased 31 percent last year as the insurer began selling health plans in Asia. Although Cigna expects to increase its earnings outside of the United States by as much as 30 percent, it doesn't plan to continue expanding internationally. "From a prioritization of new countries to enter, we did Turkey and India, so we are where we want to be," Cigna CEO David Cordani told Bloomberg. "There are not additional countries on the horizon to enter."

To learn more:
- see the Hartford Courant article
- read the Reuters article
- see the Bloomberg article
- read the Associated Press article