For-profit Insurance Companies Had a 66% Increase in Revenues in 2019, $913 billion

“..Despite growing support for Medicare for All that could jeopardize their future, America’s major health insurers are riding pretty high. According to a recent analysis from Modern Health care, the nation’s seven largest publicly traded health insurers saw revenues of $913 billion in 2019.

While a single-payer system would upend the current business model for health insurers, expansion of current Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans, combined with increased M&A activity, contributed to a 66 percent increase in profits in 2019.

Among the seven major players analysed by Modern Healthcare–Anthem, Centene Corp., Cigna, CVS Health, Humana, Molina Healthcare and UnitedHealth Group–CVS saw the greatest increase in profits, going from a loss in 2018 to a net income of $6.6 billion in 2019. The dramatic change is a result of the pharmacy company’s merger with health insurer Aetna.

Merger activity also boosted the profits of Cigna, which completed its merger with Express Scripts in 2018. Its fourth-quarter revenue soared from $14.3 billion in 2018 to $38.2 billion in 2019, netting an overall $5 billion in profit for the year.

Those profits are still small compared to the country’s largest insurer, UnitedHealth, which drew in $14.2 billion in profits last year.

Not included in Modern Healthcare’s calculations was not-for-profit insurer Kaiser Permanente, which posted a nearly three-fold increase in profits in 2019. The company credits its $7.4 billion net income to a combination of strong operating performance as well as investment performance.

Will 2020 see a continued trend in insurers’ impressive financial performance? While major health care reform legislation continues to be more of a toothless threat, increased emphasis on transparency, new entrants and disruptors such as Amazon and joint-venture Haven, as well as overall economic concerns, may put something of a damper on insurers’ revenues in the year to come. ..”

Top health insurers’ revenues soared to almost $1 trillion in 2019, Emily Payne, Benefits Pro, February 24, 2020.

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