LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – People still aren’t visiting the doctor as frequently or having as many surgeries as normal because of the coronavirus pandemic, a phenomenon that continues to help the bottom line of Louisville-based health insurer Humana Inc.
The company said Tuesday that its members’ usage of medical care, excluding coronavirus testing and treatment, remained about 5% below normal in the July-September quarter, after falling off a cliff in late March and April as the pandemic took hold.
Humana’s pre-tax income doubled, to $1.8 billion, from a year earlier, according results released Tuesday. Much of the quarterly boost in profitability had to do with one-time items, without which the company’s income would have declined from a year earlier.
Still, the quarterly profits announced Tuesday were about 10% higher than the Wall Street consensus mainly because of lower medical costs, according to a research note from Jefferies LLC.
Even excluding one-time items, Humana has earned about $4 billion so far this year, up from $2.7 billion during the same period in 2019. In fact, nine months into 2020, Humana has already exceeded the per-share profits it told Wall Street to expect for the full year by 68%.
But executives said the eye-popping results from the first half of the 2020 will be “entirely offset” by an expected loss in the final three months of the year. Medical care continues to rebound and the company is incurring costs by waiving co-pays for in-network primary care, outpatient behavioral health and telehealth visits for seniors enrolled in Humana’s main business, Medicare Advantage.
Humana Chief Financial Officer Brian Kane told investment analysts that the company expects to incur nearly $1 billion in coronavirus testing and treatment costs in 2020. That’s about 1.5% of the company’s total revenue last year.