UnitedHealth Group  (UNH - Get Report) on Tuesday reported first-quarter earnings that beat analysts' forecasts, and lifted its outlook on expectations that it will continue to expand benefits while managing costs.

The New York-based company said it earned $35.6 billion, or $3.73 a share on an adjusted basis, vs. $29.2 billion, or $3.04 a share, in the comparable year-earlier period. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting per-share earnings of $3.60 a share.

Revenue rose to $60.3 billion from $55.2 billion a year ago. Revenue from the company's Optum segment rose 11.9% to $26.4 billion.

Premiums in the quarter jumped 7.8% to $47.51 billion, beating analysts' forecasts.

The company also increased its fiscal-year earnings outlook to $13.80 to $14.05 a share, and adjusted net earnings to $14.50 to $14.75 a share. Analysts polled by FactSet are expecting fiscal-year earnings of $14.65 a share.

UnitedHealth shares, however, declined 5.2% to $218.16 in trading Tuesday. 

The health insurance sector has seen steep share price declines amid concerns over proposed changes to the system of rebates paid to insurers. The sector has been the worst-performing sector in the market so far in 2019.

UnitedHealth Group is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club . Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells UNH? Learn more now.