Four of Utah’s five largest health insurance companies posted healthy profits last year, with the second smallest of the five, United Health Care of Utah, being the only company posting a loss. The success has been largely attributed to decent returns on investments (from paid premiums, of course), paying fewer claims than expected, and adding members to their insured ranks.
Despite the profits, all increased premiums while reporting large reserves to regulators. The two largest insurers in the state, SelectHealth and Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Utah, are non-profits. Really? By what standard?
The companies attempt to explain double digit increases in premiums by claiming they are hedging their bets against increased costs as a result of among other things, federal health care reform. Pretty nebulous and without any empirical support offered by the companies. In fact, SelectHealth is sitting on almost seven times more reserves than required by regulators, and BlueCross Blue Shield has socked away almost eight times more than is required. On top of that, most of the Utah insurers already meet new federal requirements for percentage of premiums spent on health care. So, the question must be asked, why do health insurance companies continue to back tort reform efforts in Utah? The answer is simple: they want to increase their bottom lines at the expense of their insureds.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.