Big 8 health insurers rake in more than $7B in Q3, setting up strong finish to 2018

The eight largest insurers made more than $7 billion during the third quarter of 2018 and pulled in a hefty $132.4 billion in revenue.

So far this year, the eight publicly traded companies have made more than $21 billion, a 31% increase over the same period last year.  

With few exceptions, most performed noticeably stronger during the third quarter of 2018 compared to last year, despite facing a whirlwind of regulatory changes while bracing for open enrollment and the midterm election.

Ultimately, the midterm election is expected to be good for insurers. Marketplace open enrollment is off to a slow start, but many insurers said they feel bullish about Medicare Advantage offerings on earnings calls this quarter, echoing similar sentiments from the Trump administration. 

Unsurprisingly, UnitedHealthcare raked in the greatest profits. It earned $3.3 billion in the third quarter of 2018 on $56.6 billion in revenue, up from $2.5 billion during the third quarter of 2017. The insurance giant appears on pace to maintain the title of “nation’s largest insurer." Going forward, it could bring in additional revenue from new ventures, such as its forthcoming foray into EHRs, as well. 

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The “most improved” award goes to Molina, which began its comeback story this year and has continued climbing out of the hole. The Long Beach, California-based company lost $100 million during the third quarter of 2017, but made $200 million this past quarter.

Centene netted the least out of the insurers this quarter. Its revenue reached nearly $16.2 billion, but after making reconciliation payments to California’s In-Home Support Services program and closing out an expired VA contract, it reported just $19 million in net profit for the quarter.

Aetna, Anthem, Cigna and Humana trended similarly, all netting between $160 million and $212 million more in the third quarter of 2018 than the third quarter of 2017. But Aetna stands out for its earnings to-date, which are more than twice what they were at this point last year.

Aetna spent considerable time in the spotlight in the third quarter, as federal regulators weighed whether to allow its $69 billion merger with CVS—and ultimately did. As part of the transaction, Aetna agreed to sell its Part D business to WellCare.  

The deal will close any day now, according to company executives.