FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, file photo, a sign for Aetna Inc., sits atop a building at the company headquarters in in Hartford, Conn. Aetna reports quarterly financial results on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, file photo, a sign for Aetna Inc., sits atop a building at the company headquarters in in Hartford, Conn. Aetna reports quarterly financial results on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File) (The Associated Press)

Aetna 1Q Earnings Beat as Demand for Government Plans Rises

Industries Reuters

Aetna, which is in the process of buying rival Humana, reported first-quarter operating earnings that topped analysts' estimates as the health insurer added more members to its government plans.

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The company said on Wednesday it was on track to close the Humana acquisition by the second half of the year and that it had obtained about two-thirds of the necessary state approvals required to close the deal.

However, Aetna's net income fell to $726.6 million, or $2.06 per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $777.5 million, or $2.20 per share, a year earlier.

The company's medical benefit ratio, which compares the amount spent on medical claims with income from premiums, deteriorated to 80.5 percent from 79.1 percent a year ago.

The company's operating earnings of $2.30 per share was above the average analyst estimate of $2.23, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue rose 4 percent to $15.69 billion, beating estimates of $15.45 billion.

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(Reporting by Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Anil D'Silva)