ST. PAUL, Minn., April 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- In a year marked by the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota's seven nonprofit health plans focused on supporting the health and financial stability of more than 2.5 million enrollees. Last year, the plans paid more than $1.021 billion to their enrollees for insurance premium relief and cost-sharing waivers related to COVID-19 testing and inpatient treatment, the Minnesota of Council of Health Plans announced today.
Plans also reported a collective operating margin of 3.23% on revenue of $16.4 billion in 2020, largely the result of enrollees deferring medical care amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, overall medical expenses for Minnesotans rose 0.63% over 2019 to $14 billion, with pharmacy expenses up 13% year over year.
As mission-based, nonprofit organizations, health plans use this operating margin for the benefit of their enrollees, especially as the national health emergency continues.
Health plans have played a critical role in protecting the health and well-being of Minnesotans throughout 2020. Efforts included cost-sharing waivers for testing and treatment, expanded telehealth access for members, increased community giving, financial assistance for providers and insurance premium relief for enrollees. Health plans also participated in a MNsure special enrollment period that gave the uninsured – including those who recently lost coverage due to a layoff – an opportunity to gain coverage.
"Health plans immediately recognized the immense public health impact that COVID-19 would have on enrollees, and they stepped up quickly to ensure no-cost access for testing and inpatient treatment, as well as many other measures," said Lucas Nesse, president and CEO of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans. "The health and safety of Minnesotans remain our top priority and we will continue to find innovative ways to ensure access to high-quality care and provide good enrollee experiences amid a lot of uncertainty."
Pandemic drives shift in enrollment to government programs Total plan enrollment increased 4.35% to 2.5 million. Enrollment in government programs also increased significantly last year, rising 20% to 1 million, while commercial enrollment decreased 4.87% to 919,538.
"Through all of the challenges of 2020, I'm especially proud of the way health plans supported Minnesotans," Nesse said. "They worked closely with individuals, employers, providers and the state to ensure stability in the market and to provide health benefits to enrollees when they needed it most."
Established in 1985, the Minnesota Council of Health Plans is an association of licensed nonprofit health insurers that includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield/Blue Plus of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Hennepin Health, Medica, PreferredOne, Sanford Health Plan of Minnesota and UCare. The financial results reported for 2020 are an industry average and therefore vary by individual health plan.