Health insurers' profits climb 51% since 2008

March 25, 2011

The five largest publicly traded health insurance companies reported combined profits of $11.7 billion in 2010.

The five largest publicly traded health insurance companies reported combined profits of $11.7 billion in 2010, according to the results of an analysis by a nonprofit political organization.

Health Care for America Now (HCAN) reported in its study of the companies' earnings reports that profits for UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., and Humana Inc. increased 51% from 2008 to 2010.

Last year, the 5 companies' combined profits grew 17%, excluding a one-time, $2.2 billion gain from the 2009 sale of a WellPoint subsidiary.

Share prices for the health insurers have risen 15% to 25% this year, compared with less than 5% for broad market indices, according to HCAN.