UnitedHealth leads the way in Q3 as top insurers rake in $10.2B in profit

UnitedHealth Group blew its competitors out of the water in profit for the third quarter, netting $5 billion on the back of continued double-digit growth at Optum.

The second-highest profit earner for the quarter, CVS Health, earned $1.52 billion. CVS out-gained UnitedHealth in quarterly revenue, however, earning $64.8 billion. UnitedHealth posted $60.4 billion in earnings for Q3.

Anthem and Cigna also each earned more than $1 billion in profit for the quarter, with Cigna earning $1.35 billion and Anthem earning $1.18 billion.

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Integration continued to pay dividends in the third quarter. Cigna, for example, attributed much of its financial bump to its acquisition of Express Scripts. Its profits jumped from $772 million in the third quarter of 2018.

UnitedHealth Group's Optum subsidiary grow by double digits in both revenue and profit for the quarter. Following Optum's continued strong performance, UHG announced it would elevate Optum's CEO, Andrew Witty, to president at the parent company.

CVS Health also said financial results for recently acquired Aetna help buoy its third-quarter results. Thanks to the addition of Aetna's substantial member base, CVS' revenues in its health benefits business jumped from $641 million in Q3 2018 to $17.2 billion in Q3 2019.

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Humana beat Wall Street projections in Q3, and in its earnings report it credited the performance to growth in its Medicare Advantage enrollment. Humana projects a 17% increase in MA membership by the end of the year.

Humana posted $689 million in profit and $16.24 billion in revenue for the quarter.

Molina Healthcare's revenue dipped for the quarter, declining by about 6% from the prior year quarter to $4.1 billion. This was in line with the company's expectations, however. Molina's profits also dropped slightly for the quarter, from about $195 million in Q3 2018 to $175 million in Q3 2019.

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Centene's profits took a significant jump year-over-year. The insurer posted $19 million in profit for the third quarter of 2018, a figure that skyrocketed to $95 million in profit for Q3 2019. WellCare also saw its profits go up, increasing from $130 million in Q3 2018 to $241 million in Q3 2019.

Looming in the background of the financial performance for both is their planned merger, which Centene CEO Michael Neidorff said continues to pace ahead of schedule.

Medical membership over the first nine months of the year was largely on par with that same period in 2018 (this graphic does not include drug plan or supplemental plan membership). Insurers that saw notable increases include Anthem, which gained 1.5 million people and WellCare, which gained 850,000.

Molina lost about 700,000 members over the past year.

Charts contributed by Data Editor Eli Richman.