UnitedHealth revenue rises 8% amid 'downward pressures'

As the first insurer to report second-quarter earnings since the Supreme Court ruling last month, UnitedHealth showed that reform pressures weigh down even the giant players in the industry.

UnitedHealth's second quarter net income rose 5.5 percent to $1.34 billion, and its revenue jumped 8.3 percent to $27.3 billion, according to Reuters.

Gains in the company's Medicare, Medicaid and commercial coverage spurred that growth, increasing almost 5 percent to 35.9 million members, including 85,000 new enrollees in its Medicare Advantage program, the Associated Press reported.

UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley cautioned, despite the upward growth this quarter, challenges remain. "There continues to be more downward than upward pressure across the healthcare landscape," he told analysts Thursday on a conference call, Reuters noted. "We expect this environment to prevail for some time, due to the employment malaise and imminent regulatory changes."

In particular, constrained state and federal budgets could limit funding for private-run government health plans. Plus, new reform requirements and taxes will apply before the law's coverage-expanding measures are fully implemented, Fox Business reported.

"Our diversified position is a strength as we work to address these headwinds, but we have respect for the challenges ahead and believe market expectations should remain in check and aligned to these realities," Hemsley added.

UnitedHealth also reported a medical-loss ratio of 81.3 percent, a slight drop from last year, Fox Business noted.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- see the Associated Press article
- check out the Fox Business article