​​​​​​​Humana posts $486M fourth-quarter loss, postpones earnings call as it mulls merger ruling appeal

Humana headquarters building
Humana posted a loss of $486 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the payer’s quarterly earnings report.

Humana posted a loss of $486 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, but its top executive is still pleased with the company's overall performance in 2016 as it navigated uncertainty surrounding its merger with Aetna.

By comparison, Humana recorded a $246 million profit in Q4 2015, according to the company's latest earnings report. The profit loss this year is tied to the company’s previously announced write-off of funds it is owed through the Affordable Care Act’s risk corridor program, which totaled nearly $600 million. Revenue also dropped in the quarter to $12.88 billion, a decrease of 4% compared to Q4 2015.

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The earnings report also showed that the number of enrollees in Humana's ACA exchange plans dropped sharply through January by about 69%. By the end of December, more than 450,000 people were enrolled in Humana’s exchange plans, but a month later that figure dropped to 204,000. Humana confirmed last year that due to ongoing losses, its individual commercial offerings would cover no more than 156 counties in 2017, down from 1,351 counties in 2016.

But Humana did add to its Medicare Advantage membership over the course of the year, as it rose to 2.8 million, an increase of 3.1% compared to this time last year, according to the report. Humana added more than 10,000 enrollees in January, too, according to the report, and its medical loss ratio grew from 85.8% to 89.2% compared to Q4 2015.

The company’s earnings call has been postponed until Feb. 16. Meanwhile, Aetna and Humana are considering their options for an appeal of a judge's recent decision to block their proposed merger.

Humana CEO Bruce Broussard said the ongoing transaction made for a “complex operating environment” during 2016, so the company is pleased with its financial results over the course of the last year given that challenge.

“These results and the current strength of the company are the result of deep clinical engagement with our members, tireless work to simplify the member experience, our partnership with providers and the dedication of our more than 50,000 associates,” Broussard said in the earnings report.