Individual market struggles drag down Anthem's Q4 earnings

In its fourth-quarter earnings report Wednesday, Anthem said its net income fell 64 percent, in part because of challenges tied to its individual business. Its government business, however, continues to perform well, as its operating revenue rose 17 percent in the quarter.

The insurer reported a net income of $180.9 million in Q4, while its Q3 net income was $506.7 million. That shortfall, CEO Joseph Swedish said in an earnings call with analysts, is primarily due to lower-than-expected earnings for the insurer's business on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. In particular, he noted "unsustainable pricing in some markets is hurting our market share."

Still, Swedish expressed optimism that the individual market will stabilize, especially since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has addressed issues with special enrollment periods and a tax on health insurers has been delayed. Earnings report (.pdf)