Third-quarter profits for Cigna (NYSE: CI) fell 6.7 percent as low interest rates weighed on results--although healthcare membership increased and medical costs fell at the managed-care company, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The insurer is seen as more immune than rivals to the new healthcare reforms because of its focus on fee- and service-based relationships with large employers and its significant business outside the United States, according to CNBC.
Cigna's profit had been improving over recent quarters, benefiting from increasing medical enrollment. Medical membership climbed 339,000 to 11.4 million from a year earlier and increased 78,000 during the third quarter, the WSJ reports.
It also has had success selling consumer-directed health plans. Premiums and fees in the healthcare segment rose 19 percent to $3.35 billion compared with last year, primarily on membership growth and change in membership to a higher percentage of commercial and Medicare customers, according to the Associated Press.
Cigna saw a $21 million benefit in the quarter because enrollees used the healthcare system less than expected. But the company expects healthcare use to accelerate more than it did this year and last, CEOr David Cordani told the AP. Growth in outpatient and professional services was slower than expected, he said, but people sought out preventive care and kept up with their prescription medication during the quarter, so Cordani says he's not seeing "inappropriate rationing of care."