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UPDATE 1-WellCare beats profit estimates, raises earnings forecast

(Adds details on forecast, background)

Aug 4 (Reuters) - U.S. health insurer WellCare Health Plans Inc reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday, boosted by higher enrolments in its Medicare and Medicaid businesses.

The company, which focuses on government-backed Medicare and Medicaid plans, also raised its 2017 earnings forecast to $6.75 to $6.95 per share from $6.55 to $6.80 per share.

The upbeat results come amid uncertainty in the U.S. healthcare industry as Republicans seek to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

Republican President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off about $8 billion in subsidies that help control costs for low-income Americans under the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare.

WellCare's Medicaid memberships increased 16.6 percent to 2.83 million as of June 30, mainly helped by higher enrolments in Missouri.

Net income, however, fell to $74.1 million, or $1.65 per share in the second quarter ended June 30, from $90.8 million, or $2.04 per share, a year earlier as expenses soared.

Medical benefits expenses jumped about 24 percent to $3.72 billion.

Excluding one-time items, WellCare earned $2.52 per share, beating analysts' average expectation of $2.24, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue climbed 19.8 percent to $4.1 billion. Analysts had expected $4.2 billion. (Reporting by Manas Mishra and Akankshita Mukhopadhyay in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)