The five largest health insurance companies in the United States are reporting a 56% rise in profits from 2008. The top five, WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Aetna and Humana, experienced combined 2009 profits of $12.2 billion. The profits coincide with the same insurance companies cut the proportion of premiums they spent on their customers’ medical care, committing relatively more to salaries, administrative expenses and profits.
These profits combined with insurance companies’ plan to direct more of those profits to salaries and administration at the expense of more expansive, better quality healthcare has left them vulnerable to criticism in the midst of the ongoing healthcare reform debate in Washington.
Fewer customers, more profit
Each of these companies, except Aetna, shed customers in 2009 and saw profits jump.
Company 2008 profit 2009 profit Change
WellPoint $2.5B $4.7B + 91%
UnitedHealth $3.0B $3.8B + 28%
Humana $647M $1B + 61%
Cigna $292M $1.3B + 346%
Aetna $1.4B $1.3B – 8%
Totals $7.8B $12.2B + 56%
Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings
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