WellPoint: Cancellation letters led to rise in healthcare utilization

Healthcare utilization increased last year because when consumers received cancellation letters, many rushed to seek care and treatments before they lost their health coverage, WellPoint said Wednesday when it announced its fourth-quarter earnings.

WellPoint also revealed that it enrolled 5000,000 new members through the exchanges and expects to add 1 million new members this year despite the botched rollout of the health insurance exchanges last year, Forbes reported.

So far, WellPoint's enrollment numbers are "very consistent with our expectations," CEO Joseph Swedish told analysts on a conference call, reported Bloomberg. "We do feel good about what we've seen thus far in the exchanges."

Chief Financial Officer Wayne DeVeydt added that "the majority" of the new enrollees have already paid their first month's premium.

And since the enrollees aren't any sicker or older than WellPoint had predicted, the second largest insurer in the nation actually predicts it will make a small profit from them. That may ease fears that all the glitches facing the exchanges last year would negatively impact insurers, reported the Indianapolis Business Journal.

However, Swedish did concede that the Obama administration's decision to allow insurers to reinstate canceled polices will cost WellPoint about $100 million. "The changes that are facing our industry are admittedly very substantial and it still remains very early in the year," he said.

To learn more:
- check out the Forbes article
- see the Bloomberg article
- read the Indianapolis Business Journal article

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