Insurer UnitedHealth cuts forecast due to overhaul business

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

UnitedHealth is chopping its 2015 earnings forecast citing hits it expects to take from new public insurance exchanges.

The nation's largest health insurer is now pulling back on marketing for its exchange coverage next year, a few weeks after open enrollment for that coverage began nationwide. The overhaul's state-based public exchanges allow people to sign up for coverage, many with help from income-based subsidies.

That is a dramatic shift for the Minneapolis insurer, which said just last month that it would expand into 11 more public exchanges for 2016. A spokesman says those plans remain in place.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. now expects 2015 earnings of about $6 per share, down from its previous forecast for $6.25 to $6.35 per share.

Its stock is down sharply before the opening bell.