Health insurer WellPoint Inc posted a 7.6 percent drop in net income on Wednesday, but the results topped analysts' forecasts as its programs for the elderly improved their performance.

Net income at the largest U.S. health insurer by membership fell to $693.5 million, or $1.43 per share, from $750.5 million, or $1.44 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding net investment losses, earnings of $1.50 a share were 7 cents ahead of the analysts' average forecast, according to Reuters Estimates.

WellPoint joins a string of U.S. health insurers that reported better-than-expected results this earnings season.

The company's revenue slipped 1.4 percent to $15.27 billion, below the $15.41 billion expected by analysts.

Its enrollment stood at 34.2 million at the end of June, down 3 percent from a year earlier. Widespread job losses have pressured the employer-based enrollment of WellPoint and other health insurers.

Operating profit in WellPoint's consumer business soared 67.7 percent, primarily stemming from operating improvements in its seniors business.

WellPoint spent 82.9 percent of its premium revenue on medical costs, down from 83.3 percent a year earlier. The company now expects medical costs to amount to about 82.9 percent of premium revenue for the year, up from its prior view of about 82.7 percent. The measure is closely watched by Wall Street as a gauge of profitability.

The company projected 2009 earnings of $5.06 to $5.12 per share, including net investment losses of 54 cents, which is equivalent with its prior outlook.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)