Elevance exec says Medicaid attrition has changed mix of members

By Amina Niasse and Pratik Jain

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Elevance Health executive Peter Haytaian said on Wednesday that a decrease in the number of people eligible for its Medicaid plans this year, as well as changes the company made in where it operates those plans, shifted its balance of healthy and sick members.

Commercial plans and government-backed Medicaid health plans, which cover medical costs for people with low-income, comprise the majority of Elevance's business.

During the pandemic, insurers were required to keep Medicaid members enrolled in plans. In 2023, the policy was terminated and states began the process of determining if people were still eligible.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Global Healthcare Conference Haytaian said company is seeing improved profitability for its Medicare business. Insurers have seen unanticipated use of healthcare plans by enrollees after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Haytaian said that medical services use by Medicare recipients may be stabilizing, but that it would need to continue to monitor the use to be sure.

Compared to rivals UnitedHealth and Humana, Elevance has a smaller presence in the government-backed Medicare Advantage market. Medicare is the U.S. plan for those age 65 and older or with disabilities.

Elevance rivals in recent quarters have struggled with elevated medical costs, as demand from older adults for medical care remains robust.

The Indianapolis-based insurer slightly raised its annual earnings forecast in April over higher premiums from commercial insurance plans that helped keep medical costs in check.

The company earlier on Wednesday said it continues to expect annual adjusted profit to be greater than $37.20 per share.

Elevance shares closed down 1.2% at $530.61.

(Reporting by Amina Niasse and Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Caroline Humer and Bill Berkrot)