Humana reports $901M in Q3 earnings, attributing growth to prevention

Humana building
The Louisville-based insurer has generated $1.63 billion in net income since the beginning of this year. (Humana)

Humana beat expectations this past quarter, reporting $901 million in earnings in the third quarter of 2018 and $1.63 billion since the beginning of this year.

Earnings per share were $4.65 for the third quarter and $9.58 in 2018 to-date. 

The insurer boasted growth in its Medicare Advantage (MA) membership, a trend that continued from last quarter. The response to Humana’s offerings for 2019 has been positive so far, and this is “paving the way for significant growth in 2019,” said Brian Kane, chief financial officer. 

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More broadly, the company touted its focus on prevention and addressing the social determinants of health through smart use of analytics and coordinating with clinicians. 

Humana’s analytics department has largely spearheaded its medication reconciliation work, using technology to catch discrepancies that, in turn, prevent adverse responses to drugs and hospital readmissions. CEO Bruce Broussard said this program alone has generated “significant” savings. 

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In August, Humana announced plans to open a digital health and analytics center in Boston called Studio H. 

At Studio H, “we are developing a critical capability that can help Humana leap forward and overcome friction points to create a simplified, connected and personalized healthcare experience,” Broussard said. 

Broussard also told the story of a member with numerous chronic conditions who couldn’t afford the co-pays for his medications or office visits. Humana’s primary care physicians and other clinical staff members helped him access services that not only improved his health status, but saved him money. 

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For instance, they helped him find a food pantry, enroll in SNAP, and explained that he could receive fresh produce at a large discount by paying at the local farmer’s market. They also helped him enroll in subsidy programs to reduce the cost of his rent and utilities. These actions left him with money to access medical services. 

Humana has introduced social determinant strategies like these to the patients it serves through Kindred at Home, the home health provider it acquired in July, Broussard mentioned. 

Kane said Kindred “is performing in line with our expectations.” 

Addressing the problems members face outside of the hospital or doctor’s office is vital to improving their health and, ultimately, reducing medical costs, Broussard said.