Aetna’s second-quarter profit jumped 52 percent, topping Wall Street expectations, and it raised its 2017 forecast again, this time well beyond analyst projections.
Shares of the nation’s third-largest insurer soared in early Thursday trading, after it detailed results.
Aetna added some Medicare customers and grew its employer-sponsored health coverage in the second quarter, but a pullback from the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges also helped the comparison with last year’s quarter.
The Hartford, Connecticut, insurer’s biggest expense, health care costs, fell and the percentage of premiums it pays in medical claims improved as Aetna slashed its participation in the law’s exchanges down to four states from 15 last year. The insurer still expects to lose more than $200 million before taxes this year on ACA-compliant coverage it sells on and off the law’s exchanges. But that’s better than the approximately $300 million it lost last year.
Aetna and several other national insurers have scaled back their business on the Obama-era law’s exchanges, where they have struggled with a sicker-than-expected patient population and not enough healthy customers, among other challenges. Aetna intends to completely leave that market next year.
Other insurers are still finalizing their 2018 plans for the exchanges, and they also have to contend with the uncertain future of billions of dollars in government funding that President Donald Trump has threatened to stop.
Health insurance is Aetna’s main business, and most of its enrollment comes…
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