As Health Insurers' Profits Swelled, So Did Campaign Coffers

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The five largest health insurance companies saw a 17 percent increase in profits in 2010, the last year before reforms passed in the Affordable Care Act take effect, according to a new report (pdf) from Health Care for America Now. As the American people struggled to climb out of the worst economic climate in decades, these companies saw $2.2 billion in profits.

As health insurers sought to maximize profits before ACA took effect, millions were forced out of health insurance due to high premiums while CEOs took home massive paychecks and Wall Street investors raked in major dividends.

At the same time these companies were flush with cash and lavishing those at the top, they were spending millions on campaign contributions and lobbying to weaken, delay, and repeal health care reform efforts to rein in out of control health care spending.

These five companies –UnitedHealth, Aetna, Humana, Wellpoint, and Cigna—spent nearly $50 million on lobbying fees from 2008 to 2010 and their employees and political action committees spent more than $7.3 million on campaign contributions (see chart below).

Insurer

Lobbying, 08-10 (in millions)

Contributions, 08-10

UnitedHealth

$11.9

$2,019,511

Aetna

$9.7

$1,295,537

Humana

$6.3

$1,258,527

Wellpoint

$16.8

$2,117,577

Cigna

$5.1

$608,025

Total

$49.8

$7,299,177

Citation: Public Campaign Action Fund analysis of data found at the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, opensecrets.org.

As the Washington Post reported just a few weeks ago, after the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, health insurance companies shifted their political giving, “While Democrats got just more than half of the industries' money before the bill was approved…the Republicans attracted 60 percent after the votes were counted.”

One of the first actions taken by the new Republican House Majority was to pass legislation that would repeal the health care legislation. That effort will likely die in the Senate.