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Humana's fourth-quarter top line buoyed by Medicare Advantage

Louisville, Ky.-based health insurer Humana recorded higher revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018, as it brought in more premium revenue from Medicare Advantage plans.

Humana reported revenue of $14.2 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, an increase of 7.4% over the same period a year ago. The increase was partially offset by lower revenues related to the insurer’s exit of the individual insurance market at the start of 2018.

“We’re pleased with the consistency of and ongoing improvement in our performance, which can be attributed to our focus on optimizing our core operations,” Humana CEO Bruce Broussard said in the earnings announcement on Wednesday. “The investments we made in 2018 to improve consumer experience, clinical programs and external broker relationships all contributed to our ability to exceed average industry growth in Medicare Advantage for 2019.”

Broussard said the company expects Advantage membership to grow by 375,000 to 400,000 this year. But at the end of 2018, membership in Humana’s Medicare Advantage segment—its biggest and most lucrative business line—totaled 8.6 million, down slightly 0.5% year over year because of membership losses in its standalone prescription drug plans.

Even so, Humana’s individual and group Medicare Advantage membership grew 7.1% to 3.1 million and 12.8% to 497,800, respectively, over 2017.

Humana reported total medical membership of 16.6 million at year-end, an increase of 18.4% over 2017 that was primarily driven by growth in its military services business thanks to a new Tricare contract that went live at the start of 2018.

Net income for the fourth quarter nearly doubled over the same quarter a year ago to $355 million.