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Executives at UnitedHealth Group hinted Friday that hospitalizations are not rising and that people are not racing to see their doctors.

However, UnitedHealth’s own data, plus other outside estimates, indicate those medical costs are not exactly slowing down either. Even though UnitedHealth beat Wall Street’s first-quarter estimates for both profit and “medical loss ratio” — the percentage that shows how much of insurance premiums were spent on health care — the company’s stock fell more than 2% on the day on fears those costs are eating into its insurance business.


The thinking on Wall Street and research circles has been, as Covid-19 becomes more endemic and less of an immediate health crisis, patients will get the services they had been putting off. That could pressure health insurers like UnitedHealth, which have benefited immensely from patients deferring care.

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