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Reform Costs Push UnitedHealth Profit Lower

UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE:UNH), the largest U.S. health insurer, said on Thursday that first-quarter profit fell due to costs and taxes related to the national healthcare reform law as well as government cuts to private Medicare funding.The company said the costs related to the Affordable Care Act and the effects of budget sequestration last year on payments from the government negatively affected earnings by about 35 cents per share. Its Optum technology-related division, which has worked on the online insurance exchanges created by that reform law, continued to grow.The company's quarterly results slightly beat analyst expectations. UnitedHealth said net profit was $1.1 billion, or about $1.10 per share, compared with $1.2 billion, or $1.16 per share a year earlier. Analysts had expected first quarter profit of $1.09 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.UnitedHealth stuck by its previous forecast for 2014 earnings of $5.40 to $5.60 per share and said it sees revenue gro...

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