Amerigroup lowers earnings guidance on H1N1 virus costs

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Amerigroup Corp. lowered its earnings guidance for the third quarter because of higher medical claims from the H1N1 virus.

The health insurer said it expected to report earnings between 42 cents and 44 cents for the third quarter, when analysts had expected 57 cents per share.

Claims associated with the flu spiked at the end of September, and the company said medical costs are expected to be higher than expected.

In addition, Amerigroup dropped its earnings guidance for the year because of fluctuating medical costs. It had previously predicted earnings of $2.55 to $2.75 per share.

“In September, we experienced a spike in flu-related activity among our Medicaid members,” James G. Carlson, Amerigroup’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “The vast majority of our members are within the demographic most at risk for the flu and we appear to be early in the cycle. With this in mind, it is difficult to determine if, and when, the situation will abate, continue at current trends or worsen.”

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