Anthem boosts 2019 financial forecast as it gears up to launch PBM IngenioRx

Anthem headquarters
Anthem released its first-quarter 2019 financials Wednesday morning. (Anthem)

Anthem reported a 9.2% increase in operating revenue in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the first quarter of 2018, leading it to boost its projections for the rest of the year as it begins to move members into its new pharmacy benefit manager (PBM).

Anthem released its first-quarter 2019 financials Wednesday morning, reporting it earned $24.4 billion in operating revenue. That increase was backed by higher membership, according to the company. 

Anthem added 1.2 million members in the first quarter, bringing its total membership nationwide to 40.8 million. Of those new members, 877,000 were in its government plans, according to the report.

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"Our first-quarter 2019 results represent a strong start to the year," CEO Gail Boudreaux said in a statement. "We reported significant growth in our risk-based membership and improved the penetration of our clinical and specialty services, demonstrating that our value proposition is resonating across our markets."

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Based on these results, Anthem increased its 2019 outlook to greater than $19.20 per share, up about 1% from its original outlook of $19 per share. It projects about $100 billion in operating revenue for the year and final 2019 membership of between 40.9 million and 41.3 million.

Boudreaux said Anthem has turned its focus to its new PBM IngenioRx in the second quarter as it begins migrating members on May 1. Anthem announced at its end-of-the-year financial report that it had moved up IngenioRx's launch because Cigna completed its acquisition of Express Scripts. Anthem had been previously contracted with Express Scripts and didn't want to be paying a competitor once Cigna bought them.

The PBM will be operated by Anthem and serviced by CVS Health.

"Looking ahead, the upcoming launch of IngenioRx is a key milestone in the realization of our vision and strategy," Boudreaux said. "With IngenioRx, we finally have a strong integrated pharmacy and medical platform, one that is predicated on providing the lowest absolute cost of care, and we are well positioned for accelerated growth."

Boudreaux said on the earnings call that interest in IngenioRx is growing after several meetings with Blues plans across the country.

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