UnitedHealth Group, a leading health insurance provider, has projected a 2024 profit that mirrors Wall Street analyst expectations, underscoring persistently high medical costs. This forecast comes amid a rebound in patient demand, particularly among older individuals, who are resuming medical procedures that were deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unveiling the Forecast
The insurance behemoth unveiled its financial forecast for 2024, anticipating revenues between $400 billion to $403 billion, net earnings per share of $26.20 to $26.70, and adjusted earnings per share of $27.50 to $28.00. This projection, however, falls below the average analyst estimate of $27.90 per share. The company also reaffirmed its 2023 outlook of net earnings between $23.60 to $23.75 per share and adjusted earnings of $24.85 to $25 per share. As of September 30, total revenues in 2023 amounted to $277.2 billion, a marked increase from $241.4 billion over the same period in 2022.
Resurgence in Patient Demand
The latest forecast coincides with a surge in demand for healthcare services, especially among older individuals. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a delay in non-emergency medical procedures and check-ups. With the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, these individuals are now seeking medical attention, contributing to elevated medical costs for insurance companies like UnitedHealth Group.
Impact of Biosimilars and New Drugs
Analysts are keenly waiting for UnitedHealth's upcoming investor day for more detailed insights into medical cost trends. There is also considerable interest in understanding how the introduction of biosimilars and new drugs - such as Novo Nordisk's Ozempic and Wegovy, and Eli Lilly's Mounjaro and Zepbound - might influence the company's financial performance.