Cigna Corp. joined peers in raising its annual profit forecast after its quarterly earnings beat estimates on Thursday, as a slow recovery in non-urgent medical procedures helps insurers rein in medical expenses.
Health insurers have seen medical costs fluctuate through the pandemic, with lower spending on elective procedures softening the blow from higher claims related to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
UnitedHealth Group and Elevance Health, formerly known as Anthem Inc, raised annual profit forecasts in July, while CVS Health lifted its earnings forecast on Wednesday, buoyed by a strong performance in its health insurance and pharmacy services units.
Cigna said lower direct COVID costs and improved revenue from government-backed health plans helped bring down its medical care ratio (MCR), or the amount spent on medical claims versus the income from premiums, to 80.7% from 84.4% a year earlier.
The Bloomfield, Connecticut-based insurer forecast 2022 MCR between 81.5% and 82.5%, compared with its prior forecast of 82% to 83.5%.
Cigna now expects full-year adjusted earnings of at least $22.90 per share, compared with its previous forecast of $22.60 per share.
Excluding special items, Cigna's income from operations was $6.22 per share, above analysts' average estimate of $5.48, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
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