Blues Doubles Annual Earnings

March 1, 2004
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Reduced administrative costs and lower-than-expected medical costs picture is reflected in a stemming of the deep premium increases of recent enabled Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to more than double its earnings for 2003 over the previous year.

The nonprofit Blues added $367.7 million to its subscriber reserves in 2003 after posting total investment and premium revenues of $13.7 billion. That compares with the $161.4 million that went to subscriber reserves in 2002, when the Blues took in $12.6 billion in revenues.

Even with the significant financial improvement, Blues CFO Mark Bartlett says the insurer's capitalization is below the average of 20 other Blues plans nationwide.

For subscribers, the earnings years.

Blues policyholders in the small group market in western Michigan saw an average 12.4 percent increase in their health premiums for 2004. Statewide, Blues subscribers renewing their policies experienced an average 11.4 percent increase for next year — about half that of 2003.

"Lower medical trends are being reflected in lower premium increases," Bartlett said.

Employers renewing Blues plans in the second quarter experienced a statewide average 9.3 percent premium increase, according to the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Helping the Blues post improved finances for 2003 was $62.9 million in savings incurred through internal administrative cuts; a collective $42.9 million profit through for-profit subsidiaries PPOM, Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America, and DenteMax; and investment income of $167.9 million.

The largest health plan in the state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provides health care benefits to 4.8 million subscribers.           

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