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As Americans delay elective surgeries and avoid doctors and hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, a report in Reuters Health says that healthcare spending declines have more than offset the added costs of COVID-19 care, insurance executives and experts say, boosting U.S. health insurer profits.

Those gains, however, could be short term, depending on how quickly the coronavirus outbreak subsides and healthcare business begins to return to something close to normal.

UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, last week posted first-quarter earnings above Wall Street expectations and kept its profit forecast in place for 2020, despite an economy battered by massive layoffs and business shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus.

When Anthem Inc, Humana Inc and Cigna Corp report their first-quarter results this week, Wall Street analysts expect a similar trend. CVS Health, a pharmacy company that owns health insurer Aetna, reports in May.

The costs from COVID-19 are going to be actually very small and more than outweighed by the deferral of elective procedures. The net impact is going to be positive for them,” said Jeff Jonas, portfolio manager with Gabelli Funds.

While extended hospital stays, particularly in intensive care units, can rack up massive bills for individuals, that pales compared to the savings from millions of Americans delaying care. Those savings also outpace the costs to insurers of waiving COVID-19 related co-pays, deductibles, tests and other care, which most insurers have agreed to waive.

Most of the country has been under stay-at-home orders, and many non-emergency care visits and elective procedures have been canceled to help hospitals manage the surge of coronavirus patients.

The largest U.S. for-profit hospital operator, HCA Healthcare Inc, said it has seen a 70% drop in outpatient surgeries so far in April compared with a year ago, while inpatient admissions declined 30%.

Federal authorities have said hospitals could resume more routine care as appropriate, as states begin to ease some social-distancing measures.

It is unclear how quickly that will happen. Much depends on how well contained the coronavirus outbreak is in a specific city or state. Hospitals will also need increased access to coronavirus testing and take additional precautions to help prevent transmission between staff and patients.

Health plans and employers who provide insurance have seen an overall decline in healthcare use of about 30% to 40% excluding COVID-19 patients, according to Tim Nimmer, the global chief actuary at Aon, a benefits company that advises large corporations and health plans.

For each month that this goes on, we are expecting about 1.5% to 2% in annual costs to be reduced,” Nimmer said. “The number one issue is how long will this go on.”

Right now, that drop is outweighing the costs of patients with COVID-19, Nimmer said. Companies with younger, healthy employees are experiencing even less spending.

Based on claims information it has reviewed, Aon said the cost of a hospitalized patient runs from $30,000 to $80,000 while a patient who goes to the hospital and is sent home runs up claims of around $1,500 to $2,500.

Health insurers could largely benefit this year from a more gradual resumption of discretionary and elective care, analysts agreed.