UnitedHealth Group’s third-quarter net income jumped 23 percent, and the nation’s largest health insurer raised its 2012 earnings forecast for the third time this year.
But company leaders also cautioned against thinking too positively about 2013. They said Tuesday that a stubbornly slow economy and the health care overhaul will combine to pressure the insurer’s business again in the new year.
The company now expects 2012 earnings of $5.20 to $5.25 per share, up from its previous forecast for $4.90 to $5 per share. Analysts expected $5.13 per share. CEO Stephen J. Hemsley told analysts during a Tuesday conference call that the insurer expects growth in 2013 as well. But he said UnitedHealth must deal with tight government budgets that will squeeze its Medicare and Medicaid businesses and high unemployment rates that could hamper its private insurance enrollment.