UPDATE 1-Health insurer Anthem beats estimates, raises full-year profit forecast

forecast@ (Adds details on forecast, medical costs)

July 25 (Reuters) - Anthem Inc raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast, as the health insurer reported better-than-expected profit on Wednesday, helped by premium rate increases and lower patient medical costs.

Anthem said net income rose to $1.05 billion, or $3.98 per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $855.3 million, or $3.16 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $4.25 per share, ahead of analysts' average estimate of $4.16, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Anthem's benefit expense ratio improved to 83.4 percent from 86.1 percent in the year-ago period. The metric measures an insurer's expenses on claims against the premiums it earns.

Total revenue rose 2.4 percent to $22.94 billion. Operating revenue was $22.71 billion, just above analysts estimate of $22.69 billion.

The company said it now expects 2018 adjusted earnings to be greater than $15.40 per share, up from its previous estimate of earnings of greater than $15.30 per share. (Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)