Updated Apr 20, 2018

The $1.3 billion Blue Cross Blue Shield windfall

Health Care Service Corp. headquarters in Chicago. Photo: Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Health Care Service Corp., the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers in five states, pulled in nearly $1.3 billion of profit in 2017 — which included large gains on its Affordable Care Act plans in the individual market. Crain's Chicago Business first reported the financials.

Why it matters: This builds on our previous reporting that many health insurance companies, like HCSC, fared quite well in 2017 despite the political wars in D.C.

By the numbers: $1.3 billion net profit on $32.6 billion of revenue in 2017 versus $106 million net profit on $30.3 billion of revenue in 2016.

  • These numbers don't include fees from self-insured employers that contract with HCSC.
  • HCSC had a $5.3 billion gross profit in 2017 (what it made from its health plan premiums before subtracting salaries, advertising and other costs), and $1.4 billion of that profit came from its ACA plans.
  • In 2017, the conglomerate spent $908 million on commissions for brokers who help sign people up for their plans and $41 million advertising its Blue Cross Blue Shield brands.

The big picture: HCSC and other insurers were able to make money on ACA plans by increasing their premiums to counter changes from the Trump administration; by limiting what hospitals and doctors ACA enrollees can see; and by enjoying a reprieve from an ACA tax.

Go deeper: HCSC's full 2017 financials.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 649,904 — Total deaths: 30,249 — Total recoveries: 137,319.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 116,505 — Total deaths: 1,891 — Total recoveries: 921.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers financial relief.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson return to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Italy has reported 889 new deaths since Friday. The country has the highest death count from the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: The U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the number of global cases nears 650,000. Governments around the world are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — states that have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing.

The big picture: With 112,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

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