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Medicare insurers' profits exceed expectations

AP/Yahoo News, December 11, 2008

Health insurance companies that serve Medicare patients are realizing significantly higher profits than they anticipated, resulting in the companies getting $1.3 billion more than projected, congressional auditors say. The insurance companies' payments are based, in part, on their anticipated revenues and expenses. If the companies had been more accurate, they could have spent much of that $1.3 billion on enhanced health benefits or lower monthly premiums, and they still would have maintained their expected profit margin, the Government Accountability Office said in a report. Rep. Pete Stark, chairman of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, said he will push for legislation next year that would lower the government's payments to insurers.