UnitedHealth's 4Q net profit slips, revenue climbs

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UnitedHealth Group Inc. says its fourth-quarter net income slipped 1 percent as growing medical costs amid the recent flu epidemic outweighed a surge in memberships, Wall Street Journal reports. The Minnetonka, Minn.-based health insurer earned $1.24 billion, compared with $1.26 billion in the final three months of 2011.

Total revenue gained 11 percent to $28.77 billion, however medical costs and claims increased by 12 percent to $20.8 billion, the Associated Press reports. Enrollment climbed 18 percent in the quarter to nearly 41 million people.

Full year earnings grew 8 percent year-over-year, while revenues grew 9 percent, according to a news release. “In 2012 we continued to gain market share and broadened our revenue and earnings growth sources for the future by continuing to focus on ever-stronger execution on the fundamentals of serving our customers," said Stephen J. Hemsley, president and chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group,

Reuters says the company also backed its forecast for 2013 revenue growth of at least 11 percent and expects net earnings to range between $5.25 and $5.50 per share.

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