Anthem's Medicare Advantage membership up 18% in 2020

Anthem headquarters
Anthem reported its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings Wednesday. (Anthem)

It's not a secret that the Medicare Advantage market is booming.

At Anthem, for instance, enrollment in MA was up nearly 18% at the end of 2020 compared to the year before, reaching 1.4 million members.

Total Medicare enrollment, including both MA and supplement plans, was also up more than 11% at the end of 2020, Anthem told investors on Wednesday, reaching 2.4 million.

"We're pleased with our continued growth in this important segment for Anthem," CEO Gail Boudreaux said on the insurer's earnings call.

Chief Financial Officer John Gallina told investors that Anthem is also "projecting double digital growth at the midpoint" of 2021 for Medicare Advantage, and that the company expects "continued, measured growth" over the course of the year in MA.

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Boudreaux added that the insurer's Essential Extras offering in Medicare Advantage drew significant interest in 2020, with a 300% increase in members selecting a benefit through the program.

In eligible plans, members have the option of choosing coverage for a number of services depending on their needs or desires, ranging from transportation to a health and fitness tracker to assistance from a personal home helper.

Anthem's Q4 earnings miss Wall Street estimations

Anthem reported $551 million in profit for the fourth quarter of 2020, falling short of Wall Street analysts' predictions.

That marks a 41% drop in profit compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, when Anthem brought in $943 million in profit, according to the company's earnings report released Wednesday morning.

Anthem earned $4.6 billion for full-year 2020, a slight dip compared to earnings of $4.8 billion in 2019, the company said.

Many insurers warned that their fourth-quarter financials may be less than stellar as healthcare utilization returns to near-normal levels and costs related to COVID-19 mount. Boudreaux said in a statement that despite the challenge of the pandemic, the company performed strongly over the course of the year.

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“Despite uncertainties with the pandemic, Anthem delivered strong growth across all of our businesses in 2020 reflecting the diversity and strength of our portfolio and our unwavering commitment to those we serve,” said Boudreaux. “I am proud of all that we accomplished during this challenging time, and we remain focused on supporting our members, customers and communities as a trusted health partner.”

Anthem reported $31.8 billion in revenue for the quarter, which did surpass analysts' expectations. That figure represents a 16% increase in revenue compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 when the insurer brought in $27.4 billion.

Total revenue for 2020 was $121.9 billion, an increase of 17% compared to 2019's $104.2 billion in revenue, Anthem said.

Anthem also added 1.9 million members over the course of 2020, bringing its total membership to 42.9 million as of Dec. 31.

For 2021, Anthem expects earnings in excess of $24.50 per share and operating revenues of approximately $135.1 billion.