Rep. Stark Cites Profits as Reason for Insurers To Lower Premium Rates
On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) in a letter asked 10 health insurers that reported significant profits in the first three quarters of this year to lower premiums for their customers, CQ HealthBeat reports.
In the letter, Stark noted that the insurers have reported more than $9.3 billion in profits for the first nine months of the year, which is $2.1 billion more than during the same period in 2009.
He wrote, "On average, your profits have gone up 41% from last year," adding, "I call upon your companies to share the billions you are reaping in higher profits with your policyholders by lowering premiums."
Stark sent the letter to the following insurers:
- Coventry Health Care;
- Health Net;
- Molina Healthcare;
- UnitedHealth Group; and
- WellPoint (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 11/10).
UnitedHealth Group reported a $713 million increase in profits in the first three quarters of 2010, a 25% increase over the same period in 2009 (McCarthy, National Journal Daily, 11/10). Meanwhile, Coventry had the largest gain in profits in terms of percentage, with a 116% increase, from $133 million to $288 million (CQ HealthBeat, 11/10).
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, defended the profits. He said, "For every dollar spent on health care in America, less than one penny goes towards health plan profits, and it's time Washington addressed the other 99 cents" (National Journal Daily, 11/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.