×

UPDATE 1-US health insurer Anthem beats profit estimates

(Adds details on forecast, background)

July 26 (Reuters) - Health insurer Anthem Inc on Wednesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by higher enrollment and a rise in premium rates.

Anthem, which sells plans to employers as well as government-sponsored health insurance also bumped up its profit forecast for the year.

The No.2 U.S. health insurer's results come a day after Senate Republicans narrowly agreed to open debate on a bill to end Obamacare, but the party's seven-year effort to roll back Democratic President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law still faces significant hurdles.

Republicans have struggled to fulfill Trump's campaign promise to repeal Obamacare, which has enabled 20 million more Americans to get health insurance.

Anthem said last month it would mostly stop selling individual plans in Wisconsin and Indiana, exiting the Obamacare exchanges altogether and cutting out sales through brokers in all but one county in Wisconsin and five counties in Indiana.

Anthem, which scrapped its $54 billion deal to buy Cigna Corp in May, said net income rose to $855.3 million, or $3.16 per share in the second quarter ended June 30, from $780.6 million, or $2.91 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $3.37 per share, beating analysts' average estimate of $3.23, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total operating revenue climbed 4.3 percent to $22.20 billion. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $22.26 billion.

Anthem said it now expects full-year adjusted profit to be greater than $11.70 per share, up from a previous forecast of at least $11.60. (Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)