RSV vaccines drove rising Medicare Advantage costs, UnitedHealth execs say

RSV vaccinations brought more older adults to their primary care offices in the last months of 2023, one factor behind rising medical costs in Medicare Advantage, UnitedHealth Group executives said. 

Andrew Witty, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, told investors on a Jan. 12 call that more visits to primary care providers for RSV vaccines led to increased medical service costs in other areas for the Medicare population. 

"To be clear, all of that is good news for healthcare. These are seniors, many of whom had not been to the office in a long time," Mr. Witty said. "They've come back in now, got vaccinated, and physicians have picked up on other things." 

UnitedHealth Group's medical loss ratio in 2023 was 83.2%, up from 82% in 2022. In the fourth quarter of 2023, the medical loss ratio was 85%, up from 82.3% in the third quarter. 

Inpatient admissions for COVID-19 also contributed to rising costs in the last months of the year, CFO John Rex told investors. Inpatient admissions rates for the virus in December were around 50% to 60% higher than in October and November, he said. 

"What we saw in the fourth quarter and particularly in December, overall, we've been noticing that COVID admits for inpatient stays are running a higher cost per case than we traditionally saw," Mr. Rex said. "That makes some sense. They're more intense cases typically, that are going to inpatient stay." 

Insurers warned of rising medical costs, especially among the Medicare Advantage population, driven in part by pent-up demand for elective surgeries delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Top 40 articles from the past 6 months