UnitedHealth beats profit estimates for Q2, raises outlook

Regardless of what’s now going to happen to the Affordable Care Act, the country’s largest health insurer is doing just fine.

UnitedHealth Group, which withdrew from all but three ACA exchanges in 2017, reported a better-than-expected second-quarter profit Tuesday and raised its full-year earnings outlook.

Its quarterly report came on the heels of news that Senate Republicans won’t have enough votes to pass their repeal-and-replace bill, and may now focus on a repeal-and-delay approach.

UnitedHealth said its withdrawals from the exchanges this year, combined with the ACA health insurance tax deferral, reduced consolidated Q2 revenues by about $1.8 billion and lowered its revenue growth rate by 4.5%.

But overall, the insurer’s adjusted net earnings grew to $2.46 per share in Q2, a 26% increase compared to the $1.96 per share it reported in Q2 2016. That beat the consensus EPS estimate of $2.38.

RELATED: Following ACA exchange exits, UnitedHealth beats Q1 earnings expectations

Total revenue grew 8% year over year to $50.1 billion, and Optum’s earnings from operations grew 21%. UnitedHealth also raised its adjusted net earnings to a range of $9.75 to $9.90 per share, up from $9.65 to $9.85 per share.

UnitedHealthcare, meanwhile, grew to serve 2.5 million more people in the quarter.

On the insurer’s quarterly earnings call, CEO Stephen Hemsley stressed that his organization is well-positioned to succeed despite the uncertainty facing the healthcare sector.

“We are at home in the current environment,” he said, noting that UnitedHealth is a different organization than it was 10 years ago and expects to be a different organization 10 years from now as it continues to “adapt and evolve” as healthcare changes.

Still, he later said headwinds facing the company in the future include national and state healthcare policies, funding trends and taxes—all developments that UnitedHealth is following closely.

“Certainly at this stage in the national conversation, speculation would just be that,” he added.