On the Call: UnitedHealth CEO Stephen J. Hemsley

Managed care company United Health Group Inc. reported a 30 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit Thursday, due in part to a big legal charge it took in the last quarter of 2008.

The Minnetonka, Minn., insurer also said its commercial enrollment losses have slowed, and its Medicare and Medicaid businesses grew by big margins. The insurer raised its revenue guidance for 2010 slightly, to more than $90 billion. But it did not change its earnings guidance of $2.90 to $3.10 per share.

QUESTION: Can you explain what offsets the positive developments so that you’re not increasing guidance? Is it just conservatism?

RESPONSE: I would point out that it is January, and let me then reaffirm what I would say those headwinds are. This is an economic environment that is unparalleled in our lifetime. We have meaningful rate pressures in the Medicare and Medicaid environment.

We have the loss of lock-in pricing in the Prescription Solutions business. [Read the full article]

Magellan Health Services, Inc. (Nasdaq:MGLN – News) today announced that it will release fourth quarter 2009 and fiscal year 2009 earnings results on Friday, February 26, 2010. Management will discuss the Company financial results as well as its business strategy and outlook in a conference call to be held the same day at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time.

The press release detailing the Company fourth quarter and fiscal year 2009 earnings will be issued at approximately 6:30 a.m. Eastern time on Friday, February 26, and will be immediately available on the investor relations page at www.MagellanHealth.com.

To participate in the conference call, interested parties should call 1-888-566-8408 and reference the passcode Fourth Quarter 2009 Earnings Call approximately 15 minutes before the start of the call. [Read the full article]

In a report published by the Associated Press earlier today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she lacks the votes to quickly move the Senates sweeping health-care overhaul bill through the House. According to the AP story, her concession leaves little hope for a White House-backed plan to quickly push the Senate-approved health bill through the House, followed by a separate measure making changes sought by House members, such as easing the Senates tax on higher-cost health plans. The S&P Healthcare Index fell 2.1% this afternoon, compared to less than 2% declines by the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrials. The Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index fell 2.2%, while some of the biggest managed care stocks generated even bigger declines. At $33.54 a share, UnitedHealth Group (UNH) fell 2.9% this afternoon, followed by a 2.8% drop by Cigna (CI) to $37.11 and a 2.7% decline by Wellpoint (WLP). [Read the full article]

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