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Humana rides senior population to record quarterly profits

On November 3, 2020, Forbes reported that Humana's third quarter profits nearly doubled. How did they do it? With the help of a Medicare Advantage population that has been slow to seek care.

Many articles that call attention to insurers’ huge profits during the pandemic have singled out UnitedHealthcare, but United is not the only payor to see profits rise as a result of delayed care. Humana is a particularly interesting case because of the company’s deep penetration of the Medicare Advantage (MA) market. While commercial plans are finally seeing an uptick in utilization, MA plans are a different story. Seniors still aren’t seeking out medical treatment at anywhere near pre-pandemic levels. This is concerning for providers and payors alike, who both have a vested interest in ensuring a large aging population is accessing services and treatments that prevent health conditions from getting really serious — and expensive to treat. Unlike providers, however, payors will continue to benefit financially if MA members keep delaying care. Humana, for example, said its profits nearly doubled in the third quarter, begging the question, will the insurer invest any of this wealth back into the health of its senior population? Will they urge their MA members to resume utilizing their benefits?

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