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Pretty pandemic pennies for BCBSNC

A tale as old as time – patients pay more, while insurance executives profit

The pandemic’s been kind to BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina (BCBCNS), according to 2021 financial reports.

Revenue? Up.

Profits? Up.

Executive bonuses? Well, up, of course, to the tune of an extra $9 million among the top 8 executives.

Now, BCBSNC isn’t unique in its pandemic profitability. UnitedHealth Group’s full-year revenues jumped more than $30 billion (with a ‘B’) in 2021, and CVS Aetna pulled in an extra $10 billion, too. The trend looks set to continue, too, as UnitedHealth Group brought in revenues 14 percent higher than Q1 of 2021.

So BCBSNC isn’t alone. But it is a big jump for a much smaller company. According to WRAL:

“BCBSNC had $10.7 billion in annual revenue in 2021, including nearly $570 million in net revenue, often considered profit for a non-profit company. That’s a 118% jump from 2020 and a 16% increase from pre-pandemic 2019.”

So, is any of that windfall making its way back to consumers?

Well, not if BCBSNC has anything to do with it.

The insurer tried to boost 2022 individual premiums by nearly 10%, and small group premiums by 6%, but the state knocked them down to 2.8% hike and a 0.9% reduction, respectively.

So, just to recap, in 2021, BCBSNC saw its revenues double, execs pulled $9 million in bonuses, and the company still tried to squeeze extra premium dollars out of consumers while blaming hospitals for high healthcare costs.

Sounds like nice work if you can get it. But it feels more than a little unfair that while hospitals struggle to keep their doors open and patients struggle to pay their bills, insurance companies are breaking profit records left and right.

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