Health insurer Cigna Corp posted higher third-quarter profit on Thursday as strength in stock market investments boosted the value of variable annuity products in its reinsurance business.

Net earnings rose to $329 million, or $1.19 per share, from $171 million, or 62 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, profit increased to $1.13 per share from 89 cents and beat the analysts' average forecast of $1.03, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 8 percent to $4.5 billion.

Cigna closes the third-quarter earnings season for large U.S. health insurers. The companies posted largely better-than-expected quarterly profits, but their shares remain under pressure because of concerns that a healthcare overhaul under debate in Congress will dramatically undercut future profitability.

(Reporting by Christopher Kaufman; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)