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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan headquarters in Detroit. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The Republican tax overhaul didn't just benefit publicly traded health care companies. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurers collected a major windfall, too.

By the numbers: 15 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies cumulatively reaped $2.26 billion in tax savings just in 2017 from favorable changes to their "net deferred income taxes," according to a new report from ratings agency A.M. Best.

The details: Eliminating the corporate alternative minimum tax, a policy that ensured companies pay some minimum level of taxes on their income, created a lot of the benefit for the Blues. It also helped that Republicans kept a special tax loophole that only applies to certain Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurers.

  • Almost half of the 2017 tax reform benefits ($1.1 billion) accrued to Health Care Service Corp., the Chicago-based insurer that owns Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in five states.
  • The next two Blues that earned the biggest windfalls were the affiliate companies in Michigan ($358 million) and New Jersey ($319 million).
  • Credits associated with the alternative minimum tax "will have a positive impact on 2018 net income" and future years, A.M. Best analysts wrote in their report.

The bottom line: The millions of dollars spent on tax lobbying by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, HCSC and other Blues affiliates paid off.

What to watch: 2019 premium rates for all health plans sold by the Blues.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

8 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.