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Cigna profit falls 16.4% on higher medical costs

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Aug 5 (Reuters) - Health insurer Cigna Corp reported a 16.4% fall in second-quarter profit on Wednesday, hurt by higher medical costs, and said it expects a negative earnings impact from COVID-19 of about $2.50 per share for 2021.

The company, which also has a pharmacy benefits management business, said its medical costs in the reported quarter grew as demand for non-COVID healthcare services normalized.

Health insurers have largely benefited from a decline in patient use of discretionary healthcare services due to the ongoing pandemic, but demand for these services is recovering as more Americans get vaccinated.

Cigna's medical care ratio, the amount spent on medical claims versus the income from premiums, worsened to 85.4% in the second quarter, from 70.5% a year earlier, compared with an estimate of 81.04%, according to five analysts polled by Refinitiv. (Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)