Sep 24, 2019

The Blue Cross Blue Shield tax break rolls on

Two tall buildings with the Blue Cross Blue Shield logo on the one in the foreground.

Health Care Service Corp. headquarters (right). Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Health Care Service Corp., the parent of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 5 states, did not pay any federal income taxes in the first half of 2019. Instead, it got a $454 million tax refund, according to company financial documents.

The big picture: This comes after HCSC received a $1.7 billion federal tax refund in 2018 and highlights how Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers continue to be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the 2017 Republican tax overhaul.

By the numbers: HCSC's net profit in the first half of 2019, including the $454 million refund, topped $2.3 billion. These figures do not reflect the corporation's self-insured business with employers.

  • HCSC was sitting on a $19.1 billion cash reserve as of June 30, several billion dollars more than competing insurers, including its publicly traded Blues brethren Anthem.

What we're watching: HCSC has $323 million of unpaid rebates that need to go out to consumers who were overcharged for insurance.

Between the lines: HCSC and other state Blue Cross Blue Shield plans heavily lobbied Congress and the White House to enact changes to the tax code starting in 2018. This was why.

Go deeper