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Blue Cross RI posts $22M profit for first 6 months of the year

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island posted a net profit of $22 million for the first six months of this year, as the state’s largest health insurer works to recover following three money-losing years in a row.

In a regulatory filing, Blue Cross said its net income was $22.1 million through June 30, a big improvement over the net loss of $52.1 million the insurer posted at the same point last year. (In the end the insurer lost $35 million for the full year in 2016.) Revenue was up slightly, as well, to $870 million.

The insurer’s net reserves – a key measure of its solvency – stood at $273 million on June 30, up from $231 million at the same point last year. Its insurance underwriting was also in the black by $12 million. Its membership totaled 335,000 as of June 30.

Blue Cross spokeswoman Gail Carvelli noted that almost half its first-half profit came from a one-time gain of roughly $10 million on its investment portfolio. She attributed the $12 million profit on insurance underwriting to “a strong open enrollment period and lower-than-anticipated use of health care services.”

“While it is encouraging to see lower-than-expected increases in health care costs, it is still too early to tell if this trend will continue,” Carvelli said in an email. “We will continue to be focused on making health care more affordable and simple for Rhode Islanders.”

Rhode Island’s other two major health insurers saw mixed results in the first half of the year, their filings show.

UnitedHealthcare of New England ran a net profit of $20.1 million on $485 million of revenue, putting it well in the black. But Neighborhood Health Plan eked out a razor-thin net profit of $145,000 on $668 million of revenue. United’s local membership totaled 145,000 as of June 30, while Neighborhood’s totaled 204,000.

The financial disclosures come as all three insurers are waiting for the Rhode Island health insurance commissioner’s office to decide how much they can raise premiums in 2018.

For large employers, the average proposed increases are 11.9% for Blue Cross and 10.3% for United. Tufts, whose financial results were not reported by the state, is proposing 9.8% to 10.4% increases for large groups.

For small employers, the proposed increases are 12.8% for United, 8.6% for Blue Cross, 6% to 6.5% for Tufts and 5.8% for Neighborhood. For individuals, the proposed increases are 13.9% for Blue Cross and 5% for Neighborhood.Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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