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Letter: Insurers are the ones making big profits

I read with interest your March 30 article headlined “Health care providers post bigger profits” and have several comments.

First of all, it is NOT the health care providers making big profits on Minnesota health plans, but the insurance companies who administer them. Health care providers (physicians, dentists, hospitals, ancillary services, etc.) actually lose money on these plans, collecting about 40 percent of most charges. Provider reimbursements have remained very flat for many years while the insurance companies have received regular increases. The state had an agreement with the insurance companies that was supposed to allow them a 1 percent profit over expenses with any money in excess of that to be returned to the state. According to a recent Minnesota Public Radio report, the insurance companies raised their expenses by including marketing and lobbying costs to lower what they had to pay back to the state. Blue Plus, the Blue Cross subsidiary which is a Medicaid contractor, even made a $10 million “donation” to the Blue Cross Foundation of its parent company. This should have been returned to the state of Minnesota as excess profit.

As a local health care provider, I am outraged by this arrogant disdain for my professional services and Minnesota’s lack of concern about apparent fraud. The health insurers are padding their own pockets at the expense of the state of Minnesota, real healthcare providers and patients. Please don’t refer to the health insurance industry as “providers” again.

Dr. John Parkin