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 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:15 p.m. ET: 21,261,598 — Total deaths: 767,054— Total recoveries: 13,284,647Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:15 p.m. ET: 5,324,930 — Total deaths: 168,703 — Total recoveries: 1,796,326 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: The coronavirus-connected heart ailment that could lead to sudden death in athletes — Patients grow more open with their health data during pandemic.
  4. States: New York to reopen gyms, bowling alleys, museums.
  5. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  6. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Kamala Harris and the political rise of America's Indian community

Vice presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When Democrats next week formally nominate the daughter of an Indian immigrant to be vice president, it'll be perhaps the biggest leap yet in the Indian American community's rapid ascent into a powerful political force.

Why it matters: Indian Americans are one of the fastest-growing, wealthiest and most educated demographic groups in the U.S. Politicians work harder every year to woo them. And in Kamala Harris, they'll be represented in a major-party presidential campaign for the first time.

6 hours ago - Health

The cardiac threat coronavirus poses to athletes

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Cardiologists are increasingly concerned that coronavirus infections could cause heart complications that lead to sudden cardiac death in athletes.

Why it matters: Even if just a tiny percentage of COVID-19 cases lead to major cardiac conditions, the sheer scope of the pandemic raises the risk for those who regularly conduct the toughest physical activity — including amateurs who might be less aware of the danger.