Health insurance companies likely to break profit records for 2010

The six largest investor-owned health insurance companies saw a 22 percent increase in combined net income in the third quarter, putting them on pace to break profit records for 2010.

According to S.E.C. figures compiled by Health Care for America Now (HCAN), which lobbied Congress to pass March's healthcare overhaul, the top six insurers made a total of $3.4 billion in profits during Q3, or $611 million more than they did during the same period last year.

The analysis looked at WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc., Humana Inc., Cigna Corp. and Coventry Health Care Inc., which had a combined enrollment of 85 million consumers as of Sept. 30. They saw an overall decrease in commercial enrollment of 3.4 million consumers between 2008 and 2010.

All but WellPoint, Inc., meanwhile, increased how much of each premium they allocate to administrative costs and profit.

On average, each of the six now devotes 20 cents on the dollar to non-medical services, compared to 16.5 cents last year and, according to HCAN, 5 cents in 1993.

March's healthcare overhaul will require insurers to spend at least 85 cents of every premium dollar on patient care. Those changes take effect next year.