Fundamental execution was strong across UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in the fourth quarter and throughout the full year 2020, led by Optum and by UnitedHealthcare’s community and senior benefit businesses, even as the Company delivered expansive voluntary relief efforts for consumers, care providers and customers across the health system.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the more than 325,000 women and men of this enterprise for their role in advancing a higher performing health system during these times of unprecedented challenges” said David S. Wichmann, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group. “We are grateful for the human spirit and resolve of our people, including our 125,000 clinicians who, with other frontline health care workers, demonstrated extraordinary collaboration, compassion and innovation.”
The full year and fourth quarter results reflect continued strong performance, impacted by COVID-19 care costs, continued voluntary consumer and customer assistance initiatives and other pandemic-related factors. As expected, fourth quarter net earnings of $2.30 per share and adjusted earnings of $2.52 per share declined as care patterns normalized, while COVID-19 costs rose, and further rebate effects were recognized. The 2020 results were consistent with the outlook provided by the Company at its December 1st, 2020 Investor Conference.
The Company affirmed its recently issued full year earnings outlook for 2021, including net earnings of $16.90 to $17.40 per share and adjusted net earnings of $17.75 to $18.25 per share. As previously discussed, this outlook includes approximately $1.80 per share in potential net unfavorable impact to accommodate continuing COVID-19 effects, such as: testing and treatment costs; the residual impact of people deferring care in 2020; and unemployment and other economy-driven factors.
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