UnitedHealth's profit slips 14% in first-quarter as medical bills rise


UnitedHealth Group Inc. posted a net income of $1.19 billion in the first-quarter, down 14 percent from $1.39 billion a year ago, the Associated Press reports. Helped by membership growth, revenue climbed 11 percent to $30.34 billion in the first three months of 2013.

Fox Business says the Minnetonka-based health insurance giant claims it was hurt by rising medical costs and lower government payments for its private Medicare services and prescription plans for older Americans.

Total membership in UnitedHealth’s medical plans surged 18 percent to 42 million people -- boosted by Medicare gains as well as last year's $4.9 billion purchase for a 90 percent stake in Amil Participacoes, Brazil’s largest health insurer, according to Bloomberg.

"This quarter provided a solid start to 2013 across our diversified health care businesses," Stephen J. Hemsley, president and chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group, said in a news release. "Looking forward, innovation and continuing discipline in advancing consistent care quality and medical and operating cost management will be critical to fulfilling the market's demands for greater health care value, as the pressures of reform and chronic under-reimbursement continue in federal programs serving seniors and individuals and families with lower incomes. At the same time, Optum is seeing accelerating growth and momentum as payers, care providers and other benefit sponsors respond to market pressures for lower costs, higher quality, greater transparency and increased productivity across our national health care system."

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