Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Top 5 Insurance Companies increase profits by 56% over 2008: We don't need no stinkin' public option

NAH: we don't need no stinkin' public option. I lost my BCBSNC insurance when the family premium hit $1000/ month for 3 healthy members. I just can't pay that kind of money out.

Friday, February 12, 2010 - Top insurers reap billions as health costs soar

By Noam N. Levey

Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON As the nation struggled last year with rising health-care costs and a recession, the five largest health-insurance companies racked up combined profits of $12.2 billion, up 56 percent over 2008, according to a new report.

Based on company financial reports for 2009 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the report said insurers WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Aetna and Humana covered 2.7 million fewer people than they did the previous year.

The report also said three of the five insurers cut the proportion of premiums they spent on customers' medical care, committing relatively more to salaries, administrative expenses and profits......

Industry analyst Sheryl Skolnick, a senior vice president at CRT Capital Group, said many of the insurance companies likely would benefit from more customers.

But they are driven to increase prices for their products to satisfy investors, which in turn drives away more and more customers.

"It is a terrible thing to run your business for Wall Street," Skolnick said. "It creates very bad incentives, and it ultimately prevents you from doing the thing that is in the best long-term interest of your business. ... There is no way that as long as these businesses are publicly traded, they can have the best interest of their customers at heart."

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