Anthem's Medicare Advantage enrollment grew by 20% in 2019

In 2019, Anthem's Medicare Advantage enrollment grew by 20%, outpacing the market and in line with the company's guidance, executives said Wednesday.

Medicaid enrollment is expected to grow in 2020 by 400,000 people, CEO Gail Boudreaux said on the company's earnings. 

Medical enrollment as of the end of 2019 was 41 million members, a 2.7% increase from December 2018, Anthem said. The insurer’s government business increased by 854,000 due to growth in Medicaid and Medicare. Anthem’s commercial and specialty enrollment increased by 208,000.

UnitedHealth Group also touted its accelerated Medicare Advantage enrollment in its Q4 earnings call.

Anthem reported that its 2019 revenue grew 12.9% year over year to $103 billion thanks in part to the successful launch of the insurer’s pharmacy unit IngenioRx.

The insurance giant’s financial report, released Wednesday, also showed fourth-quarter revenue grew 16.4% to $27.1 billion compared to the same period last year and beat estimates. Anthem attributed the increase to the launch of IngenioRx, the company’s pharmacy benefit manager.

Anthem posted $750 million in profit for the quarter and $5.9 billion for the year overall.

“Anthem delivered strong results to close out 2019 featuring the successful launch of IngenioRx, as well as our largest organic risk-based growth in more than a decade,” Boudreaux said in a statement.

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In the fourth quarter of 2019, Anthem’s commercial and specialty business totaled $535 million, a 69.3% increase from the same quarter in 2018.

“The increase is primarily driven by the launch of IngenioRx and greater penetration of value-added services,” Anthem said in a release.

Boudreaux said that a major opportunity for IngenioRx in 2020 is to increase penetration in Anthems' self-funded business. 

"Right now we are in the range of only about 20%, well below all of our competitors in this space," she said. "That has been driven heavily by the non-competitiveness of our prior arrangement."

Anthem ended a deal with PBM Express Scripts, which has been acquired by Cigna, in January 2019. She added that IngenioRx is ready to start competing for external PBM business. She pointed to bringing on Blue Cross of Idaho this year.

Overall, fourth-quarter net income was $3.62 per share, and full-year net income was $18.47 per share.

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Anthem's medical loss ratio, the portion of a premium dollar that insurers spend on medical claims, was 86.6%. The MLR was in the company's guidance range but on the higher end of that range. 

"The flu season began earlier than anticipated so there is more flu cost In 2019 in the fourth quarter than had been anticipated," said Anthem Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer John Gallina. 

Gallina sought to assuage investor concerns about whether MLR will continue to inch up in 2020. Anthem is expecting guidance of 85.8% MLR.

"There isn’t anything lurking beneath the surface that causes an issue for 2020," he said.