Cigna profit jumps nearly 25% as people delay surgeries during pandemic

July 30 (Reuters) - Cigna Corp reported a 24.6% rise in quarterly profit on Thursday, helped by lower medical costs from delayed surgeries due to the COVID-19 pandemic and robust sales in the unit that includes its Express Scripts pharmacy benefits business.

As Americans delayed elective surgeries and avoided hospital visits during nationwide shelter-in-place restrictions, healthcare spending costs declined, benefiting health insurers.

Rivals UnitedHealth Group Inc and Anthem Inc , however, warned of higher medical costs in the second half of the year as people begin to catch up on delayed procedures. Like its rivals, Cigna also reaffirmed its previously given financial targets for the year.

The company continues to see full-year sales of $154 billion to $156 billion and adjusted profit from operations between $18 and $18.60 per share.

Sales in its health services segment, which includes Express Scripts, rose nearly 22% to $28.6 billion in the second quarter from a year earlier. The growth was driven by a 24% jump in adjusted pharmacy script volumes.

The health insurer said net income rose to $1.75 billion, or $4.73 per share, in the quarter ended June 30, from $1.41 billion, or $3.70 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue grew about 1.1% to $39.27 billion.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli