Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Christmas Card to UnitedHealth

Dear UnitedHealth,

Here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah. May the spirit of Christmas remain in your heart as your profits soar.

Your guiding principles remain a true wonder in this season of frugality in health care. Your incredible ability to forecast another stellar year of profits (14%) amid growing health care costs to employers and patients is stunning. We, your shareholders, are breathing a big sigh of relief, especially amid all of the current buzz regarding the ethical practices (*cough*) that have been transpired with all of the options backdating and accounting oversights this year.
UnitedHealth forecast 2007 net income in a range of $4.7 billion to $4.75 billion on revenue of about $79.5 billion. The company also backed its 2006 profit target, pegged in a range of $4.14 billion to $4.16 billion. These forecasts, UnitedHealth said, are based on expectations for "gains from increasing market share and strong operating margins" across its business units. In addition, the company targeted operating cash flow at about $6 billion to $6.2 billion next year.
We know that doctors really appreciate your "margins" of health care coverage each time their patients open their "Explanation of Benefits" letters and have to pay progressively larger portions of their health care bill on top of their premiums to feed our beast. Thank you.

As the challenges to health care grow, we are thrilled to offer you wishes for a "very prosperous New Year" next year (*cough *). Now that Medicare has agreed to have doctors kick in 1.5% of their earnings to provide best practices data for you to reap higher profits, you should be perfectly situated to have an even better year in 2008. Keep up the good work.

Oh, please tell your Chief Executive Stephen Hemsley to stop calling those little oversights "embarrassing." I mean, your actions speak louder than words. Ho ho ho!

Have a wonderful holiday season!

- Johnny Shareholder

1 comment:

Armond said...

Spreading more good cheer. In NE Pennsylvania it was discovered that Blue Cross was hording over 4 million dollars in surplus funds paid for by its subscribers. So in the holiday spirit, and under legislative pressure, they have decided to give away this surplus by doling out presents to local hospitals for improvements and contributing to the building of a new medical school.
Both noble and honorable jestures to be sure. But it goes without saying that Blue Cross's subscribers will find only coal in their stockings this year. In an area where over 40% of the people cannot afford health insurance for themselves or their families, and many others barely so with healthcare costs continuing to rise, it just doesn't seem fair. Maybe the ghosts of Christmas should visit Blue Cross as they did Ebinezer Scrooge!