The American Hospital Association recently penned a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee in an effort to highlight some of the many challenges hospitals and health systems are encountering as they continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, all while many commercial insurers report record profits.
The Oct. 23 letter, which was authored by Thomas P. Nickels, AHA Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy, begins by thanking the committee for its recent action to request information on the business performance throughout the pandemic of nine health and dental insurance companies. Nickels then offers a trove of supporting information that outlines not only the challenges hospitals face that have brought on specifically by the pandemic, but also through issues with reimbursement and the uninsured payment portal. At the same time, he argues, commercial payers have used this opportunity to enrich themselves.
“Despite the health care system’s financial struggles, some health insurers are treating this excess revenue like they would under normal circumstances: using it to engage in stock buyback; paying down debt; and stockpiling excess premium dollars into their reserves,” Nickels writes. “However, these times are anything but ‘business as usual,’ and these dollars are needed to keep our health care system solvent.
“To be clear – taxpayer, employer and individual consumer revenue that health insurers took under the promise of paying for health care services has in many instances been diverted to increase the health insurers’ profits.”