ACA enrollment

Large Blues health insurer pockets $1.7 billion tax refund

The Blue Cross Blue Shield logo on a building in Chicago.
Health Care Service Corp. headquarters in Chicago. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Health Care Service Corp. didn't pay a dime in federal taxes in 2018, according to its latest financial report. Instead, the health insurance conglomerate received a $1.7 billion tax refund, which swelled the company's net profit to $4.1 billion.

The big picture: As Axios reported last year, the Blue Cross Blue Shield companies were on track to retain huge sums of money in 2018 due to the Republican tax overhaul and the growing profitability of their health plans. HCSC was among the biggest winners.

Affordable Care Act enrollment falls 4%

A health insurance broker helps a woman sign up for health insurance.
Fewer people signed up for ACA coverage for 2019. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period for 2019 is over, and almost 8.5 million people signed up for health insurance in the 39 states using the federal HealthCare.gov website — down about 4% from last year's open enrollment.

The big picture: Expensive premiums, low unemployment, people shifting into Medicaid and some Trump administration moves all contributed to the lower enrollment figure. However, other states still need to report their ACA signups, and it'll be just as important to watch how many people in this market pay their first premium.