Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the insurers: Big insurance companies report big profits, benefiting from the pandemic, The New York Times

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

“The nation’s leading health insurers are experiencing an embarrassment of profits,” Reed Abelson writes over at The New York Times. “Some of the largest companies, including Anthem, Humana and UnitedHealth Group, are reporting second-quarter earnings that are double what they were a year ago. And while insurance profits are capped under the Affordable Care Act, with the requirement that consumers should benefit from such excesses in the form of rebates, no one should expect an immediate windfall. But the amounts that insurers are retaining have caught the attention of the Trump administration. The Health and Human Services Department advised companies to consider speeding up rebates, and on Tuesday suggested that they reduce premiums to help consumers through the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Just this Wednesday, CVS Health, which owns Aetna, the big insurer, posted much higher earnings. CVS, which also owns a large pharmacy benefit manager and a drugstore chain, said net income for the second quarter reached $3 billion, about $1 billion more than it reported for the same period of 2019, on revenues of $65 billion. Others had already trumpeted blockbuster results, ensuring that their stocks weathered swings in the markets. Anthem’s net income soared to $2.3 billion for the second quarter, from $1.1 billion in 2019, while UnitedHealth reported net earnings of $6.7 billion, compared to $3.4 billion for the same three months last year. Although many hospitals have been overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreaks raging from state to state, insurers have shelled out billions of dollars less in medical claims in the last three months because expensive, elective surgeries have been postponed in many places. Moreover, people have steered clear of doctors’ offices and emergency rooms in fear of contagion.” Reed Abelson, “Major U.S. Health Insurers Report Big Profits, Benefiting From the Pandemic,” The New York Times.