WellPoint, Indianapolis, enjoyed a 27% increase in third-quarter profits but reported higher medical costs and cut its full-year enrollment forecast, reflecting what some analysts have said could be the start of a slowdown in the industry. Net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 rose to $810.8 million from $640.7 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 29% to $14.2 billion. The companys medical-cost ratio, which measures medical costs as a percentage of premium revenue, was 81.3%. That compared with 81.2% in the second quarter of 2006 and 79.5% in the third quarter of 2005. Enrollment at the nations largest health insurer climbed 18% to 34.2 million members, helped by the companys acquisition of 4.8 million-member WellChoice in December 2006. WellPoint raised its full-year earnings forecast to $4.81 per share, up from the $4.74 per share it projected in July. But the company lowered its enrollment projection to 34.3 million members at year-end, down from a prior forecast of 34.5 million members. -- by Laura B. Benko
WellPoint results may signal slowdown
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