2012 health care spending per person up 5%

Health care spending per person rose 5 percent in Minnesota last year, reports the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, the trade group representing the state's health insurers.

HMOs are required to annually report their financial reports to the state.

The Minnesota health plans reported total revenue of nearly $21 billion; with an operating profit of $120 million. That's a margin of about six-tenths of a percent. Part of the rise in total spending per person is due to increased costs for chemical dependency and mental health services; chiropractors and social workers -- all were up 15 percent, said Julie Brunner, the council's executive director.

"Prices go up in some areas and people use more care in those areas and health care costs go up," Brunner said.

She said the small group insurance market continues to shrink but that does not necessarily mean fewer people are being covered. Companies with 50 or fewer employees are moving away from group insurance coverage toward alternatives such as self-insuring or what's known as "defined contribution," Brunner said.

"There are companies that are shifting the way they're handling employee coverage and giving people an amount of money that they can then take that out on the individual market," Brunner said. "So we know it's a combination of those things."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota reported that it had a net operating loss of nearly $55 million on revenues of 9.5 billion. It said that the losses were offset with investment income and other sources to close out the year with a net income of more than $68 million.

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