Health

Blue Cross NC saw $200M in COVID-related claims last year

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina saw $200 million in claims related to COVID-19 last year, the insurer said during a briefing Tuesday.

Blue Cross NC released a look at its financial performance, and the payer brought in $9.9 billion in revenue for 2020 along with $260.5 million in net income. Revenues were flat compared to 2019, according to the report, while net income was down by nearly 50% from 2019’s $492 million.

Mitch Perry, chief financial officer at Blue Cross NC, said during the briefing that the insurer did see care utilization dip at the start of the pandemic, while levels largely rebounded by the summer. By the fall, utilization was above normal levels, and in December, Blue Cross NC saw its highest-ever healthcare costs in a single month.

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“While the pandemic dominated much of 2020, we were able to remain financially stable and act nimbly to ensure our members received the care they needed and lower premiums,” Perry said in a statement. “Our goal is to make health care better, simpler and more affordable, and we did not let increased costs from the COVID-19 pandemic sideline that effort.”

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Other contributors to the decrease in net income, the insurer said, include premium reductions and investments in better serving members. While membership increased by 1.3%, revenues remained flat largely due to rate reductions for Affordable Care Act exchange plans.

Much like other industry peers, Blue Cross NC’s membership took to telehealth in huge numbers last year, according to the report. The insurer saw a 7,500% increase in telehealth usage during 2020, or more than $76 million spent on telehealth services.

Von Nguyen, M.D., chief medical officer, said during the briefing that 93% of virtual visits in 2020 were for either primary care or behavioral healthcare. 

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