UnitedHealth Group, Minneapolis, posted a 35% increase in third-quarter profits as it raised premiums, cut expenses and benefited from slower-than-expected medical cost growth. Net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 was $476 million, or 77 cents per share, compared with $353 million, or 56 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Total revenue rose 16% to $7.2 billion. UnitedHealth, the nation's largest health insurer with 18.3 million members, enjoyed a $20 million savings on projected medical costs, which rose 10% to 11% during the quarter instead of 11% to 12% as predicted. Medical costs consumed 79.2% of premium revenue, down from 80.9% in the year-ago period. The company raised its 2003 earnings outlook by 6 cents to $2.91 per share, a 37% increase over 2002. Per-share earnings for 2004 are predicted to grow to between $3.52 and $3.55. -- by Laura B. Benko
Quarterly profit grows 35% at UnitedHealth
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