Aetna's profits rise 39% despite revenue shortfall

Aetna saw revenues dip 5 percent in the third quarter of fiscal year 2017 compared to the year prior, but cost containment allowed the insurer to boost net income.

The insurer reported revenue of $15 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, down from $15.8 billion in the same period a year prior. Aetna cited lower premiums in its healthcare segment, fewer members in its ACA exchange business, and temporary suspension of the health insurer fee as contributors to the decline.

However, tapering expenses offset revenue losses. Aetna witnessed expenses drop 7 percent from $14.7 billion in the third quarter of 2016 to $13.7 billion in the same period this year. The insurer attributed the decline to temporary suspension of the health insurer fee, expense management efforts and lower transaction-related cost following the collapse of its proposed merger with Humana in February.

Overall, the payer achieved net income of $838 million in the third quarter of 2017, up 39 percent from $604 million in the same period last year. Aetna also saw its commercial medical loss ratio, or the amount of money it spends on medical claims, shrink year over year from 83.8 percent to 81.4 percent.

Aetna's earnings report did not mention CVS Health's proposed $66 billion bid to acquire the company. 

More articles on payer issues:
CMS proposes ACA benefit changes for 2019: 7 things to know 
What's looming behind the proposed CVS Health-Aetna deal 
Health Partners Plans names Geralynn Boone VP of Medicare clinical operations: 5 takeaways 

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