Anthem, Inc.’s third-quarter 2021 financial results — combined with UnitedHealth Group’s strong showing less than a week earlier — have helped to ease investors’ concerns about the Delta variant’s potential impact to insurers’ medical costs, according to equities analysts.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer said on Oct. 20 that its medical loss ratio (MLR) was 87.7% for the quarter, beating the Wall Street consensus of 88.4%. Anthem’s “government business drove MLR upside, with commercial earnings below expectations — consistent with the pandemic pattern of more persistent commercial utilization and more COVID sensitivity/deferred care in Medicare/Medicaid,” Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel pointed out in a note to investors.

Overall, Newsel added, Anthem’s results “should provide further relief on top of [UnitedHealth’s] results for investor concerns going into the quarter about MLRs from the Delta COVID wave.”

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