Drum roll, please. It’s earning season once again and, sure enough, five of America’s largest health insurers cleaned up in Q2.
We’re not just talking “cleaned up”—we’re talking bleached, waxed, and wiped the floor completely bare. The Guardian reports that insurers made more than $11 billion in profits in the second quarter.
Let’s put this figure into perspective:
- For $11 billion, you could take nearly two trips to space—move aside, Jeff Bezos.
- For $11 billion, you could own both the New York Knicks and the New York Yankees.
- For $11 billion, you could buy every item purchased through Amazon’s 2021 Prime Day sale.
While we know that care has hastened and insurers’ profit trajectory has slowed, $11 billion in one quarter is still unfathomably large.
But the scrutiny insurers faced last year (a pandemic year) after reporting such high profits—in some cases doubling the amount they made the year before—has largely faded away. We know we write about this all the time, but it will never stop boggling our minds. Where is the accountability?
Although the House Committee on Energy and Commerce launched an investigation into insurers last August 2020, the results of that have not been made public. The committee was largely focused on health plan compliance with consumer protections enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as the committee put it in a public letter, “These developments raise important questions about the extent to which the insurance industry may be profiting off the pandemic while simultaneously taking action to reduce access to free COVID-19 testing.”
While we wholeheartedly salute the committee for digging in, why stop with COVID-19? Even before the pandemic, were America’s health insurers providing value to anyone but shareholders? And today, can anyone say with a straight face that they’re providing $11 BILLION worth of value?
We’ll stand by.