(Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group Inc <UNH.N> added more members to its health plans in the third quarter, helping it to post a profit well above Wall Street estimates and boost its earnings forecast for the year.
The largest U.S. health insurer said it now expects full-year adjusted earnings per share to approach $12.80, compared with its prior forecast of between $12.50 and $12.75.gi
While other health players including CVS Health <CVS.N>, Aetna Inc <AET.N> and Cigna Corp <CI.N> are embarking on major merger deals, UnitedHealth has doubled down on a strategy of reining in costs and expanding its medical services group.
UnitedHealth's insurance business added 2.8 million more members year-over-year in the third quarter and raked in revenue of $45.94 billion, 12.8 percent higher than last year.
Net earnings attributable to shareholders rose 28 percent to $3.19 billion, or $3.24 per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30.
Excluding items, the company earned $3.41 per share.
Total revenue rose 12.4 percent to $56.56 billion.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of $3.29 per share on revenue of $56.34 billion, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.
(Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)