Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Profit Margin: Health Insurance Industry Ranks #86

Click to enlarge.
Private health insurance companies have come under attack lately for making profits, even "record profits," allegedly because of mergers, lack of competition, and monopoly power.

Health Care for America Now: Simply put, the private insurance companies have secured monopolies or tight oligopolies and exercised that power to put profits ahead of patients.

There were no actions taken against anticompetitive conduct by health insurers in the last administration, in spite of the fact that cases by state attorneys general have secured massive fines against these insurers. A lack of antitrust enforcement has enabled insurers to acquire dominant positions in almost every metropolitan market. Unfortunately, this toxic market structure has a profound effect on the nation’s ability to achieve the goals of health care reform.

President Obama: There have been reports just over the last couple of days of insurance companies making record profits, right now," Obama said during a prime-time news conference. At a time when everybody's getting hammered, they're making record profits, and premiums are going up. What's the constraint on that? ... Well, part of the way is to make sure that there's some competition out there.

MP: As the table above of Profit Margins by Industry shows (click to enlarge,
data here for the most recent quarter), the industry "Health Care Plans" ranks #86 by profit margin (profits/revenue) at 3.3%. Measured by profit margin, there are 85 industries more profitable than Health Care Plans (includes Cigna, Aetna, WellPoint, HealthSpring, etc.).

And isn't one reason for a lack of competition that competition for health insurance across state lines is prohibited, creating in effect 50 state health insurance "cartels?"


At 8/12/2009 2:23 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well now Professor John David Lewis has dissected HR 3200...

At 8/12/2009 3:26 PM, Blogger Angie said...

I think I shall someone should send this to, because they're keenly interested in getting the facts right, ya know.

At 8/12/2009 4:35 PM, Blogger David Rotor said...


I've worked on the business end of healthcare in Canada, the US, and in Ireland, for about 5 years out of a 20+ career in industry and the public sector.

My interest has always been, not about the profitability of the sector, but about its efficiency. Each of the healthcare sectors in the countries I've worked in have significant challenges.

They all share a system that allocates some services to the government and some to the private sector. Obviously the balance is shifted more to the private sector in the US than in Canada or Ireland.

However, one of the main disadvantages of the private sector insurance funded system in the US is the administrative cost incurred by patients, healthcare providers, and the insurers as the insurance companies routinely challenge procedures, even those they pre-approved.

In just one example, a US Northeast hospital group determined that nearly 100% of pacemaker insertions were pre-approved, nearly 100% were subsequently challenged, and that just about 50% of their total cost for the procedures related to filing and defending against non-payment by insurance companies.

That doesn't mean that a publicly funded system is de factor lower cost, but it does suggest significant reform and cost reductions are available.

At 8/12/2009 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And this is not even risk-adjusted profit margin.

Don't ever expect a liberal or a journalist to understand relative vs. absolute statistics. They exploit dramatic headlines, not cool-headed truth. Thinking is kryptonite to them.

BTW, has anyone heard the Iraq and Afghanistan body counts lately? The media stopped counting dead soldiers for us last November. Apparently it's not news anymore. It serves no 'social purpose' anymore.

At 8/12/2009 9:16 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

I think the message here is to go into the business at the top of the list and open a brewery: you make plenty of money and you won't care much about the substandard medical care you receive from Obamacare due to the palliative nature of your product :)

At 8/13/2009 3:23 AM, Anonymous chandra said...

I think insurance is important, but we must remain cautious in selecting insurance institutions, search the best of our opinion. Thanks for sharing.

At 8/13/2009 6:30 AM, Blogger Free2Choose said...

My question is, if the proposed health care bill is really about creating fair competition and the public option is open to all citizens, regardless of the state they live in, does it also provide for the deconstruction of regulation which prevents private health insurers from competing on that same level (i.e. across all states)? My guess is, probably not.

At 8/13/2009 7:42 AM, Anonymous rjsgso said...

Who compiled this table? How did they determine the numbers? Is it verifiable elswhere? From here, it looks like more insurance industry propaganda. Back up your claim!

At 8/13/2009 7:58 AM, Anonymous INTJ said...

And David, I ask why you don't think, as I do, that the U.S. system's high administrative costs are actually a direct result of the micromanagement of medical practices by government (and by the lawyers), and not something that government can "fix"?

At 8/13/2009 8:11 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

rjsgso: As I always try to do, I have a link to the source of the data for profit margins by industry. The data are available at YahooFinance, and I believe they get the data directly from the publicly-available income statements of the publicly-traded firms.

At 8/13/2009 9:48 AM, Blogger David Rotor said...


In my example of insurance companies routinely refusing to make payments for pre-approved cardiac pacemaker insertions I don't see the heavy hand of the government.

At 8/13/2009 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the fun of it I looked at the balance sheet of CI. Looks like a pretty dead industry to me. A company of 30K makes about 1billion a year on 17-20B of sales. Not bad, but not real great. Banks, oil companies, and manufacturing greatly exceed these numbers on a regular basis when times are good. CI is one of the biggest players, and they seem pretty puny to me. I don't think there is really that much to squeeze out of these companies,

At 8/13/2009 11:23 AM, Anonymous Tim said...

Trailing 12-month profit statistics:

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) - $3.49 billion (B) on revenue of $84.27 B for a profit margin of 4.14%

Humana (HUM) - $0.85 B on $30.25 B for 2.79%

Wellpoint (WLP) - $2.43 B on $60.59 B for 4.00%

Cigna (CI) - $0.60 B on $18.93 B for 3.20%

For these four companies, the total is $7.37 B on $194.04 B for 3.80%. Given that these are four of the largest and best-managed companies in the industry, it's not surprising that other companies would pull the margin down to 3.3%. Besides, this would still put health insurance in the #73 slot on the list. Feel free to check the key statistic pages in Yahoo! Finance, which is where I got these numbers, to confirm this.

That should answer the charge of "industry propaganda".

At 8/14/2009 2:16 AM, Blogger Eveningstarcapital said...


At 8/14/2009 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who compiled this table? How did they determine the numbers? Is it verifiable elswhere? From here, it looks like more insurance industry propaganda. Back up your claim!

From RPM
How about you go do a little searching yourself? Before I found this link (thanks Mark for your blog I have been looking for "facts" so I can call Progressives and my Reps), I found Forune 500 article and then did my own simple math. In 2007 the percentage profit was just over 5%, so if anything the profits may be coming down over time (again only the top Insurance Companies listed as it was a Fortune 500 site). Is it a lot of moola, sure, however, as someone else noted that is accounting profit, not risk and cash set aside for future claims so the businesses can stay in business.

At 8/15/2009 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not the profits, its the adminstrative costs of the insurance industries. When you run 20% admin costs, life is not bad if are in admin. A lot of money for pushing paper around.

Blow more smoke up my ass.

At 8/16/2009 9:31 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

One thing that NOBODY seems to be addressing is the high cost of lawsuits and its affect on health insurance. Why is tort reform off the table??

At 8/18/2009 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no Economist, but a low profit margin on a very high volume product still equals a ton of money. People are saying health care costs make up 1/6 of our economy. You do the math.

At 8/23/2009 1:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:17
"Its not the profits, its the administrative costs of the insurance industries. When you run 20% admin costs, life is not bad if are in admin. A lot of money for pushing paper around."

What exactly do you think an insurance company does that doesn't involve admin?

I suppose you'd be surprised to find out that a bottle manufacturer's biggest cost is glass, right?

Before we worry any more about healthcare, how about we deal with economic illiteracy first.

At 8/23/2009 9:19 PM, Anonymous brad jenks said...

Actually the 20 to 30% administrative costs is just another lie. Blue Cross as well as other groups have done studies refuting the claim...IT'S A LIE!

Blue Cross/Blue Shield says administrative costs…they sanctioned the study, hired a private neutral firm, and looked at multiple insurers…administrative costs 9% across the board….

A study from Columbia says….nearly the same thing….

The Heritage Foundation found the same, but I won't quote them as it may cause the liberal agenda reading this to break out in hives and develop a irreversible stutter....

At 8/27/2009 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that you note that they are 86th in profitability, but you don't say out of what. Turns out its 86th out of 214.

Nevertheless I agree that inefficiency of claims processing is a major part of the problem, btu again this inefficiency is a PRODUCT OF the market.

System wide effeciency for healthcare is considerably higher in all major government run health care systems around the world, from Britian to France to Japan and Tiawan.

At 9/01/2009 7:17 PM, Anonymous truth4u said...

Anonymous says, "System wide efficiency for healthcare is considerably higher in all major government run health care systems around the world..."

What??? Is this why 4,000 women in the UK are giving birth in hospital corridors?

At 9/03/2009 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at Item #3. You need to change your headline.

At 9/04/2009 2:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow..I,m so sorry that the health insurance companies are only making a few billion on peoples suffering. I,m sure the 50 million who don't have insurance would be willing to take a pay cut..and give them just a little more profit..after all when their spouse or kids get sick..why should we care...their poor people...and of no use to this about we start looking at ways to help everyone get decent medical care,and worry a little lesss about if the insurance companies make that extra billion this year.and you know i don't recall any of those insurance companies going bankrupt

At 9/04/2009 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

have a really dumb question. how much did the CEO's and exec's get paid?encluding all their bonuses and stock options?because i,m guessing that would be before profits or do they work for free!

At 9/06/2009 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to fear the public option. For example, ever since that card-carrying Communist Dwight Eisenhower brought us "public housing" in the '50's, everyone has stopped buying private housing.

At 9/12/2009 3:39 PM, Blogger Dave said...

At 9/04/2009 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
have a really dumb question
No,...THIS GUY:---
At 9/04/2009 2:56 AM, Anonymous said...
"wow..I,m so sorry that the health insurance companies are only making a few.."..etc.
Only HE thinks he has it answered.

At 9/12/2009 10:20 PM, Blogger Hank Gillette said...

The goals of a for profit company are diametrically opposed to the goal of providing the best health care to the most people for the least cost.

Since health insurance companies simply take in money from the insured and pay medical bills with it, there is no justifiable reason that their profit margins should be high. What value are they adding?

When you calculate their ROE, they come out much better, as I’m sure you know.

Other reasons they might not be so profitable: in the first half of 2009, the health care industry spent $280 million on lobbyists.

Compensation for the CEOs of some major health care insurers for 2005 and the prior five years (including 2005):

United Health Group

CEO: William W McGuire

2005: $124.8 million

5-year: $342 million

Caremark Rx

CEO: Edwin M Crawford

2005: $77.9 million

5-year: $93.6 million


CEO: John Rowe

2005: $22.1 million
5-year: $57.8 million

Cardinal Health

CEO: James Tobin

2005: $1.1 million

5-year: $33.5 million


CEO: H. Edward Hanway

2005: $13.3 million
5-year: $62.8 million


CEO: Michael McAllister

2005: $2.3 million

5-year: $12.9 million

PacifiCare Health

CEO: Howard Phanstiel

2005: $3.4 million
5-year: $8.5 million

Well Choice

CEO: Michael Stocker

2005: $3.2 million

5-year: $10.7 million


CEO: Larry Glasscock

2005: $23 million

5-year: $46.8 million

At 9/16/2009 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now add to the profit listed, the amount spent on advertising, lobbying and a bit for simple redundancy. THAT is what is left on the table if nothing else and THAT could cover a lot of uninsured people. ELIMINATE THE MIDDLEMAN never made more sense than it does here, insurance companies are NON ESSENTIAL to health care. Cut them out, remove the price of lobbying, advertising and move to single payer system where even the forms are all the same for more efficient processing and you'll have a system that serves the patient's needs.

SINGLE PAYER PUBLIC OPTION is the only way to spread the risk to the maximum and THAT is the purpose of insurance - the whole reason we left that form of gambling legal.

So there.

At 9/24/2009 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a similar ranking of data by industry except on on executive compensation rather than on profit margin. Mr. Perry or anyone else, do you have a reference? Thanks.

At 9/29/2009 9:20 AM, Anonymous blanco said...

At 9/30/2009 10:23 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm starting to wonder WHY is Washington so concerned about the Health Insurance Industry? According to the President and Congress, the industry made $30 billion in profits last year. It's too much. Needs to be fixed.

Didn't ExxonMobil make $10 billion in one quarter all by itself? That works about to about $40 billion in one year for one company, yet Congress isn't all over the oil industry.

I suspect the biggest issue is that insurance costs are bloating as a % of GDP because of unintended consequences of Congress: Medicare and Medicaid spending are simply running away from us - even though they constantly lower their reimbursement rates. (Already about 20% below private insurers.)

As I think about this whole Healthcare mess that has our Congress consumed, I'm thinking they created it. You don't have government entities subsidizing gas at the pump for seniors or poor people. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole pay for service thing accelerated simply because the Medicare & Medicaid rates are simply too low.

There has to be a better, less complicated way to reform healthcare.

BTW - the cooperatives remind me a little of mutual insurance companies; they're a little closer to non-profits in that they don't answer to Wall St. Maybe we would be better off if Congress contracted with some private, mutual insurance companies to provide the public option. I know it sounds a little weird, but WHAT does the government actually run efficiently? And, using insurance companies would eliminate the need to fund billions of dollars to try and get coops established.

At 10/12/2009 1:09 PM, Anonymous Barry22556 said...

Profit margins do tell you something about profitability, but Return on Equity and Return on Investment are better measures. If a company makes $3B a year with only
$.5B of assets, that's too rich from my viewpoint (you may differ).

My guess is that health insurance dollars are spent on labor costs such as doctors, nurses and techs. Comparatively, I don't think much is spent on building construction, maintenance, equipment, drugs, etc.. Thus, the way to cut costs is to cut labor costs. Maybe the only way to cut health insurance costs is to cut doctor fees. Is anyone going to openly say that?

Don't think twice its all right.

At 10/12/2009 4:00 PM, Blogger Rusty Hoge said...

The goals of a for profit company are diametrically opposed to the goal of providing the best health care to the most people for the least cost.

In a free market society, private enterprise produces the best products at the best prices...always. Let the government run medical care without any real competition and find out what "diametrically opposed to the goal of providing the best health care" really is.

At 10/15/2009 2:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad to continually read the personal attacks on the integrity of the "liberal agenda." It's really tiresome, and serves no intelligent purpose. Please stop it.

The issue regarding insurance companies is much more complex than net profits or administrative expenses. Health Care Reform is about two things: accessibility and affordability. Private insurance companies are not interested in providing coverage to an extremely large percentage of the American public. Insurance companies are the elephant in the room in addressing the affordability issue as well. It's not tort reform; it's not doctor's pay; it's not the cost of basic medical care. It's the high percentage of the overall dollars in the system that pay for overall insurance company operations, including profits.

This is a moral issue - support insurance companies and their inherent profit motive - which has caused incessantly increasing rates, continually diminished doctor pay and hospital reimbursement, along with ever increasing draconian decisions to deny care for a whole list of reasons for those who have insurance; or reform to a system in which Americans can rely on basic medical care without having to go bankrupt to obtain it. I'm saddened and confused by two things - why protect these guys, and haven't we evolved as a nation to see this at it's fundamental level and work together to bring our nation into the 21st century?

At 10/17/2009 4:13 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Insurers should be paying us to hold our money. A 3.3% "profit margin" becomes a bigger deal once you realize that insurance fundamentally is little more than a shared checking account. People pay in and they pay out. Who would use a bank that takes 3.3% of all money you deposit?

But that's not even half of it. The profit margin is after expenses. So it may be closer to having a bank that takes 10% or 30% of all the money you deposit.

All that said, there's a larger problem. Even if we find a way to educate insurers on how to deposit and write checks for less expense than 30% of the check, that only represents maybe 4 years of health care inflation and may do little to slow the rapid pace of cost increases.

It may be a sad testament to our democracy, after months of headline coverage, the following fundamental issues have gotten only a glancing survey by the major media sources. First off regardless of competition among check writers (insurance), competition amongst the actual health providers is fundamental to obtaining the benefits of the "free markets" everyone talks about. Health consumers need access to cost and quality information so they can purchase health care rationally. Then innovation at the care level will be properly valued and stimulated because better providers will get higher profits.

Second, while the health industry is far from market driven, the principles of supply and demand can't be overlooked particularly with all the evidence of a health care system on the brink in terms of capacity with rushed physicians and long lines at ERs. Health care supply must be increased. Perhaps this means automating processes now carried out by doctors and finding ways to do more with less training. Care would likely improve with software making decisions based on information in a nationally updated best practices database rather than doctors, particularly in primary care, who have an impossible task of keeping up with all relevant advances in medicine.

Insurance is certainly a more conceptually accessible issue but the heart of the matter lies elsewhere after we train insurers how easy it is to write checks:) These fundamental concepts of stimulating innovation and increasing supply do happen to be addressed in the current health bills but their approach merits debate because after all these are the measures that will actually impact the rate of cost increases. A failure to recognize this is either a surrender to the notion that patients can't be rational consumers and properly choose providers no matter what help they're given (which is certainly worth debate right?) or a simple intellectual error that could literally cost trillions.

At 10/24/2009 10:53 AM, Blogger A Family Guy said...

What is the source of your information?

At 10/25/2009 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As others have said, the profit margin comes after admin costs, CEO salaries, marketing, lobbying expenditures, and other "costs". Even if the insurance industry was run as a not-for-profit organization, there would be a need to reform the system because of how money paid by policy holders is wasted.

At 10/25/2009 8:48 PM, Blogger A Family Guy said...

I agree with the last anonymous poster. So the question is how to encourage the insurance companies and adjacent industries to be more efficient? I believe part of the answer is to remove the anti-trust exemptions and reverse McCarran-Ferguson Act. Please consider and comment on the following article:

At 10/27/2009 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continue to be amazed by the lack of knowledge of the insurance industry that drives the public option advocates. They act as if there are zero non-profit health insurers (about every state has a Blue Cross/ Blue Shield). They fail to note that many state government outsource their Medicaid programs and allow guarnteed issue and open enrollment for "low income" people. And, they fail to recognize that there is really any saving from replacing insurance admin workers with bureaucrats and commissions. Does anyone truly believe that 1 bureaucrat will be able to replace 2,3, 4...., private sector workers. Have the proponents looked at the legislation that contains umpteen commissions and bureaus. Does any proponent believe that covering the insured can be done without collection premiums for some of them (universal pooling of risk also requires universal pooling of funds). There are options for low income people but many reject insurance because they may have other priorities, as do many young people who feel that their dollars are best spent elsewhere. The public option in no panacea and tearing down our current system to replace it with an untested theoretical one is non sensical. Alternatives need to be proposed and vetted before any consideration should be given to performing a public healthcare operation in the dark.

At 11/15/2009 1:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My comment is a few questions:
Has anyone looked at the inflationary affect on insurance premiums due to the underpayment of Medicaid and Medicare?
Do Medicaid and Medicare deny claims?
Is there any evidence, other than the IRS, of an efficient government bureaucracy?
How many doctors will retire upon a government take over of the system and what will the inflationary effect of that loss of supply be?

At 12/01/2009 9:44 AM, Anonymous bonita dumaplin said...

As we all know that insurance is a big business that provide services, it is all to the individualto choose the best insurance company and options for them and for their family.remember to ask whatever questions in your mind before signing a policy after al you pay for this services.

At 12/22/2009 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't think that the US health care system does not need to be reformed then how about this entry from Wikipedia, taking in account that in most other developed nations has a much higher role of the goverment.

"Active debate about health care reform in the United States concerns questions of a right to health care, access, fairness, efficiency, cost, and quality. Many have argued that the system does not deliver equivalent value for the money spent. The US pays twice as much yet lags behind other wealthy nations in such measures as infant mortality and life expectancy. Currently the U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than most of the world's industrialized nations.[nb 1][11] The USA's life expectancy lags 42nd in the world, after most rich nations, lagging last of the G5 (Japan, France, Germany, UK, USA) and just after Chile (35th) and Cuba (37th).[12][13][14] The USA's life expectancy is ranked 50th in the world after the European Union (40th).[15][16] The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the U.S. health care system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study).[17][18] A 2008 report by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among the 19 compared countries.[19]

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States is the "only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage" (i.e. some kind of insurance).[20][21] The same Institute of Medicine report notes that "Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States." [20] while a 2009 Harvard study published in the American Journal of Public Health found a much higher figure of more than 44,800 excess deaths annually in the United States due to Americans lacking health insurance.[22][23] More broadly, the total number of people in the United States, whether insured or uninsured, who die because of lack of medical care was estimated in a 1997 analysis to be nearly 100,000 per year.[24]"

(all data is supported by refernces)

At 1/07/2010 3:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what does that have to do with Insurance?

If you look at all the data, health insurance and providers dont make that much.

The people making the killing are pharma and equipment manufacturers.

So what does this bill do? Nothing. All it does is shift costs from one place to another.

The only good thing this bill does is the exchange.

At 1/09/2010 10:28 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The failure of the US insurance-run and insurance rationed health care system is not simply insurance company profits. Insurance company overhead used to be 31% and recently went up to 41% of premiums paid. Overhead includes profit, salaries, and probably most wasteful of all is tons of paperwork that insurance companies use to ration health care.

At 1/16/2010 12:25 PM, Blogger rpbarbati said...

Actually, I feel like the U.S. is not even addressing the root concern of all of us - and it isn't insurance.

We get so caught up in something we forget to think. Nobody is interested in medical insurance - we are interested in having our medical expenses paid for. There is a difference.

So, I am currently trying to find out what the ACTUAL costs for medical expenses are in one year in the USA - not the cost of insurance, but the cost of the actual medical services rendered.

I am guessing that it would probably be much cheaper to cover the cost of the services rendered rather than trying to cover the cost of all the services that might possibly be rendered.

At 2/05/2010 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole premise is nonsense. Junk science at a new level. just as an example:

The average individual Maine rate-payer is paying four times as much for insurance than they did ten years ago.

But this isn't good enough for Anthem Health Plans. They first proposed a 14.5% rate increase for its individual insurance products, then they revised it up to 18.1% and finally 18.5%. This is an average increase. Some plans would see increase of 24.5%, some 38.4%, and for its Preventive Care and Supplemental Care Accident rider, which is part of 1/3 of all their policies, Anthem proposed a rate increase of 58.2%. This amounts to Maine consumers paying $12 million more in annual premium dollars for the exact same level of benefits.

Anthem isn't hurting for profit. Their Maine operations have generated an average annual return of $70 million dollars over the last five years. Anthem paid dividends to their parent company, WellPoint, of $75 million dollars last year alone, and $152 million since 2006.

Angela BralyCEO makes $10 million a year, not counting her stock options.....Not profit to the stats you used, but real money, and lots of it. This is a woman who said she will " never put membership ahead of profit"

Look at California and see what the profits are ( after the accountants for those groups have had their playground fun)for the different health care groups. they range from a LOW of 3% to 29.9% in the privatized blue cross system there....

Surprised reporting like this still goes on....trash in, trash out...Really? 3%......let us see the books. LOL

At 2/20/2010 10:04 PM, Anonymous Mike said...

Government can't run anything as well as the private sector.

Ask me how I know

- Former government employee

At 2/22/2010 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The average return on equity for the health insurance industry is 13.1%, significantly less than the S&P 500 average. The industry makes 3.3% retrun on revenue, placing it 86th in the industry rankings. Absolute profits are irrelevant-one must relate it to other measures. Obama must not understand the capitalistic system: capital to companies is induced by anticipated adequate returns for risks assumed. If returns are reduced without reduced risks, capital will flee the industry, bankrupting it. Perhaps that is what Obama wants but it is not the American way!

At 2/25/2010 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look at ALL the health industry rankings (#7,14,24,30,32,41,45,73,77,86)they all contribute to the high cost of insurance and a tidy profit margin for the companies.

At 2/26/2010 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a college student, studying to become what you would term a "primary health care provider" - the front line, so to speak. I am no economist, but it's not difficult to understand the principle of risk vs profit. On the other hand, I am also keenly aware of the waste of human potential and high eventual economic cost that lack of access to healthcare creates. And I see it, first-hand, on a daily basis. It is heartbreaking and alarming. I also used to work in the telecommunications industry, where decades of anti-trust legislation gave us the concept of Universal Service. Then came tooth and nail competition. We lost a few players along the way. Eventually, we got innovation and choices that we enjoy today. So, please don't tell me that we can't have some brand of coverage so that families aren't bankrupted, everyone's children can have a chance to thrive and we can still leave room for excellence and reasonable profit. How much profit is enough? What IS the so-called "American Way". Just wondering...

At 3/03/2010 4:04 PM, Blogger FLAMIERD said...

While health care plans may not be making insane profits -- the health care industry through its very subsidiaries is making money hand over fist and that money is spread around. Healthcare Facility Investment Trusts #3 (ie: Hospitals), Major Drugs #7, and dare I say that the tobacco companies are part of the issue at #6? Give me a break. Profit margin is also a misleading phrase. Its not necessarily representative of profitability. Please give us some credit. Sheesh.

At 3/16/2010 6:53 PM, Anonymous Kirk said...

There's a very large hair to split between the
totality of "Healthcare" and "Insurance Industry profits".
Here's the list-

Industry by profit-

#3- REIT Healthcare facilities
#7- Drug manufacturers-major
#14- Drug delivery
#24- Healthcare information services
#30- Home healthcare
#32- Medical laboratories and research
#41- Medical instruments and supplies
#45- Drugs-generic
#73- Accident and health insurance
#75- Insurance brokers
#77- Hospitals

At 3/19/2010 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, the system is supposed to add people to the health care pool to spread out the cost of health care among more people, thus making it more affordable for all. Since when was "health care" an insurance issue? Health care is the doctor and hospital services that provide the care. The insurance companies are only there to help spread the cost of health care out. So, here is a question. A lady broke her arm while on a visit from the UK. She didn't have insurance. It was not a complicated break, and she spent 2 days in the hospital for a simple setting and casting. The total bill? $40,000.

These numbers show that, despite high insurance rates, the insurance companies are not as profitable as the politicians make them out to be. In fact, the majority of the premiums that they collect to cover their customers has to get paid back to the medical facilities.

Question: Why does it cost $40,000 to have your arm put in a cast and to stay in a hospital bed for two days? We read about celebrities that stay in $5000/night, 3000 square foot suites on the top floor of beach resorts, with all food included and so forth. The hotel pays for valet parking services, daily cleaning and on call services, food services (and it ain't hospital food), swimming pools, exercise facilities and spas, and primier real estate and can still cover all of their costs and make a profit on 1/4 of what the hosptial charges. If hospitals charged, say, $1000 for fixing an arm, who would need an insurance policy? And if they did need an insurance policy, the premium would be 1/40th of what it is now. Let's see...a $1000/month premium would only be $25.

The problem is not the insurance company. The insurance company has inherited the problem and passed the expense on to their customers. The way to fix it is to fix the cause of the problem, not the "middle man".

At 3/30/2010 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

something is wrong here....

At 3/31/2010 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark, I have an initial impression that insurance companies should be a net zero gain / loss operation, however I can see that if management is investing the premium income so as to offset the management and service cost, then their salaries can be justified to some extent. This value could increase if they can show actually reducing premium cost thru their investment returns. If the government runs the health care, there will be no real attempt to offset cost.

At 4/07/2010 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps everyone should click on the link provided and then see that there are 5 health care related industries, including one labeled "accident and health insurance" that makes nearly 7% profit. Health Facilities make nearly 24% profit (second highest). Health care information services makes 20% (7th highest) etc. All of these are part of the HMO package. Wake up sheeple, this guy is a hack.

At 4/22/2010 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the issue of the high cost of hospital stays and services has to include the cost of providing care to people that come in with no money, no insurance and don't pay their bill, ever. Those losses have to be absorbed by the system. Something needs fixing but I think passing a bill that we still don't know what it contains is dangerous.

At 10/18/2010 10:02 AM, Blogger mwgfla said...

LOL, sure post the profit margins of the companies in the middle of the worst economic downturn in 70 years, and at a time when company after company is dropping healthcare palns for employees to cut there costs, and with high unemployment when there are simply less people enrolling in health plans of any kind....let's just completely disregard the 400% rise in profits from 2000- 2007... before the recession, high unemployment, and the stock market crash. Nice spin job, but not all of us are so easily mislead. Oh and by the way, it's the stae laws that interfere with, and prevent insurance competition, not the Federal Government. The same people that endorse less federal government intervention seem to be selective in their view, calling for the Feds to step in to fix an issue state legislations can, and should, handle... but do not. Why?? You maight ask...check out who the lobbyists are at your stae capitols...chances are thhey are protecting the monopoly, or oligopoly in your state. The hypocracy and misinformation is as bloated as the salaries and bonuses of Health insurance CEO's

At 10/22/2010 6:09 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

What struck me as I read through the table was how many Health related companies were also on the list (though not surprisingly). There were Drug Companies, Hospitals, Health information, and many other related fields. The table should show more than margin alone. Ranks for Margin, as well as revenue $, and profit $ would give a better overall picture.

At 4/30/2011 8:54 PM, Blogger Allison said...

Insurance Administration cost as a percentage of the total cost of premium is 4%-6%. Medicare and Medicaid (government run) Administration cost is 17% of the total cost. Insurance companies are so efficient that Administration costs are a very small percentage of the overall costs. the ignorant fool who states 20% for administration cost is just plain wrong. Please keep in mind that when the insurance companies make $10B in profit that they have 150,000,000 customers. This works out to approximately $5 profit per month on a $400-$500 a month premium per customer. This works out to less than 2% profit per customer. Take the $5 away from that premium and it does not matter much. If you want to get pissed at somebody, go after the doctors, hospitals, and drug makers. Their charges are 92%-93% of the total $400-$500 premium you pay each month. Hmmm, I wonder why the Democrats did not go after them with health care reform???


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