Membership growth and higher premiums drove increased second-quarter profits for Aetna, Hartford, Conn., and PacifiCare Health Systems, Cypress, Calif. Aetna reported by far the biggest gains, more than doubling second-quarter profits to $286.3 million, or $1.79 per share, from $138.4 million, or 87 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was $4.9 billion, up from $4.5 billion in the 2003 second quarter. Medical membership increased 95,000 from the previous quarter to more than 13.4 million. For the first six months of the year, Aetna earned $652 million, or $4.08 per share, up 39% from $468 million, or $2.98 per share, in the 2003 period. Revenue was $9.7 billion, up from $8.9 billion a year ago.
Meanwhile, PacifiCare earned $76 million, or 80 cents per share, in the second quarter, up 4% from $73 million, or 96 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. The year-ago results include a one-time, 11-cent gain from changes to the company's healthcare-cost estimates for 2002 and prior periods. Second-quarter revenue rose 12% to $3 billion. The company said commercial membership grew 5% from the year-ago quarter. For the six months, PacifiCare earned $143 million, or $1.51 per share, compared with $143.8 million, or $1.91 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose about 10% to $6 billion. The company completed a 2-for-1 stock split in January 2004. -- by Lisa Scott