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“Over the past several days, I’ve been scouring a dozen years’ worth of big health insurers’ financial disclosures, and I’ve discovered some trends that go a long way toward explaining why most of us are paying much more for coverage that is far less useful and protective than it used to be,” Wendell Potter writes over at his Substack. “I chose 12 years because I wanted to see how the six biggest for-profit insurers have fared since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. A lot more of us have health insurance because of that law (although, infuriatingly, more and more of us are becoming ‘functionally uninsured,’ as I’ll explain below), but it also set the stage for massive changes in the health insurance business.

“Here’s what I found:

“Those six companies –- Anthem, Centene, Cigna, CVS/Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealth -– are massively bigger today than they were 12 years ago as a result of numerous mergers and acquisitions and a new love interest: the government. In 2010, the companies took in a combined total of $245.2 billion dollars in revenue. Last year, that number had more than quadrupled to $1.1 trillion.

“The three biggest -– United, CVS/Aetna and Cigna -– are five times bigger now than in 2010 in terms of revenue.  Back then, their combined revenues totalled $149.5 billion. Last year: $753.8 billion. (Note: I used Aetna’s 2010 earnings report for this comparison. It merged with CVS at the end of 2017.) Two of those companies -– United and CVS/Aetna -– have grown so fast they have leapfrogged into the top five of the Fortune 500 of America’s biggest companies. Only Walmart, Amazon and Apple took in more money last year than those two companies. (Cigna, the third largest in terms of revenue and my former employer, is now the 13th largest on the Fortune list.)

“The big six insurers’ profits have soared along with their revenues. Last year they made $60.7 billion in profits collectively, compared to $16.9 billion in 2010.” Wendell Potter, A decade-long look at how Big Insurance profiteers American taxpayers and the sick, Substack.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...