Christopher K. Peace and Rosalyn R. Dance column: Virginians deserve better from the big health insurance companies | Columnists

“Profits are booming at health insurance companies,” Axios reported in 2017.

In 2018, the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Donald Trump compiled a report on the profitability of health insurance companies that concluded “the stock prices of health insurance companies rose by 172 percent from January 2014 to 2018 resulting in improved profitability and outperforming the S&P 500 by 106 percentage points.”

Earlier this year, one national news headline declared: “Top health insurers’ revenues soared to almost $1 trillion in 2019.”

And in August, The New York Times revealed that the “nation’s leading health insurers are experiencing an embarrassment of profits” during a pandemic, noting that “some of the largest companies, including Anthem, Humana and UnitedHealth Group, are reporting second-quarter earnings that are double what they were a year ago.”

These headlines show an ongoing trend. Highly profitable insurance companies have no shame about collecting record profits while reducing coverage as the rest of the economy suffers, and health care providers such as doctors, nursing homes and hospitals face serious financial difficulty while serving patients on the COVID-19 front-lines.

Stat News reported that as of Oct. 1, several major insurers will stop fully paying for virtual visits, which means patients face higher health care costs for “the virtual care that has been heralded as a lifeline at a time when COVID-19 is still killing more than 700 Americans each day.”

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