Record Profits Posted By Health Insurers

The year 2009 that saw 2.7 million people lose their private healthcare coverage, was also the year that saw America’s health insurance companies in the midst of a deep economic recession, increase their profits by 56%.
 
According to a report by the advocacy group Health Care for American Now (HCAN), the nation’s five largest for profit insurers closed the doors on 2009, with a combined $12.2 billion profit.
 
The report criticizing the health industry’s out-sized earnings stated, without comprehensive national health care reform, the government will always put Wall Street’s short-term interests, before those of millions of patients, including a battered national economy plagued by unemployment.
 
Calling the profits reasonable, the nation’s health insurers’ spokesman said they represented only a small increase in health insurance costs.
 
This year’s profits are attributed mainly to the 2.7 million people, who moved to public insurance plans like Medicaid, following the insurers’ dropping their coverage, as per the HCAN report.
 
However, Richard Kirsch, HCAN’s National Campaign Manager conceded to reporters, the insurance companies were not solely to blame for removing people from their rolls, as many employers were induced to cut back benefits, such as, health plans due to the recession, including the laid-off who losing their coverage, had no option but to enroll in Medicaid.
 
Even so, Kirsch says insurance companies cancelled policies and raised premiums drastically, in order to off-load their most expensive patients.
 
 
Among the report’s findings on specific insurance companies:
From 2008, Wellpoint’ profits increased 91%, while reducing its total enrollment by 3.9%.
From 2008, United Health increased profits by 28%, with a 3.4% drop in enrollment.
Cigna increased profits by 346%, while dropping enrollment by 5.5%.
Humana increased profits by 61%, with a 1.7% decrease in enrollment.
The only company to witness a 8% drop in profits from 2008, but what Aetna lost it gained with a 7% in enrollment.
 
Lawmakers and critics’ who participated in the HCAN expressed disgust over the profiting of insurance companies profiting, even while unemployment was on the rise and over 40 million lacked health insurance of any sort.
 
According to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), they accomplished the feat in times of economic downturn by delaying payments to doctors, hospitals, patients and by raising premiums, increased co-pays and deductibles.
 
Blue Cross, one of California’s largest insurers, announced its plans of raising premiums for many of its 800,000 customers by as much as 30% to 39%.
 
The health care bills under consideration in Congress would ensure insurance companies were regulated, including prohibiting the denial of insurance or policy cancellations on the basis of any pre-existing health condition.  As well, the bills would also make it mandatory for insurance companies to spend premium money on health care, and not administrative costs.

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