Health insurers post some grim numbers

New financial filings show health insurers doing business in Minnesota's individual market continue to struggle with premium revenue that's not covering their expenses.

The filings specify premium revenue and medical costs, but not the additional administrative expenses required to manage tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance claims and payments to providers.

According to the filings covering this year through September, for every $100 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota collected in premium revenue, the company was paying out close to $107 in medical bills.

That translates to a loss for the first nine months of the year reaching almost $33 million dollars.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota decided to get out of the individual market next year because of massive losses.

Minnesota Council of Health Plans President Jim Schowalter said the volatile individual market needs new attention and that about all that is constant in it, is the continuing mismatch between premiums and medical expenses.

"Old solutions won't work for today's problems," said Schowalter.

Medica, and HealthPartners' two insurance operations are faring better, but premium revenue is only slightly ahead of all medical costs — 5 percent at most.

Two HMOs, UCare and Blue Plus, were paying out a little more than $80 for every $100 they were taking in, which is a much healthier ratio albeit exclusive of administrative costs.

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