Insurer UnitedHealth raises 2021 profit view after results top estimates By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of the UnitedHealth Group appears on the side of one of their office buildings in Santa Ana, California, U.S., April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

(Reuters) -UnitedHealth Group Inc beat quarterly profit estimates and raised its full-year earnings target on Thursday, as the largest U.S. health insurer reported strong growth in its Optum unit that manages drug benefits.

The industry bellwether raised its full-year profit target for the second time this year, and now expects adjusted earnings of $18.30 to $18.80 per share in 2021, compared with its previous forecast of $18.10 to $18.60.

For the quarter ended June 30, the company reported a medical loss ratio – the percentage of collected premiums spent on medical services – of 82.8%, compared with 70.2% a year earlier, when patients put off non-urgent care due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly half of all Americans have been fully vaccinated according to latest government data and daily new COVID-19 cases ebbed in May and June, encouraging people to return to doctors’ offices for routine, non-elective medical care.

Revenue from UnitedHealth (NYSE:)’s Optum unit, which manages drug benefits and offers healthcare data analytics services, rose 17.2% to $38.3 billion from a year earlier.

UnitedHealth reported adjusted earnings of $4.70 per share, beating estimates of $4.43 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company has beaten Wall Street’s expectations for earnings per share for at least the last eight quarters.

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