WASHINGTON -- Health insurance profits are skyrocketing in 2010 compared to last year's returns and the outgoing chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the companies is calling on them to return the profits to consumers in the form of premium reductions.
"Your ten firms alone have reported over $9.3 billion in profits for the first three quarters of 2010," writes Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of the Ways and Means health subcommittee -- and, for a day, chairman of the full committee. "On average, your profits have gone up 41 percent from last year."
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for the leading health insurance trade lobby, America's Health Insurance Plans, said that Democrats shouldn't focus on the companies' profits, but rather the overall cost of health care.
"The data are clear that underlying medical costs are driving up the cost of health care coverage. For every dollar spent on health care in America, less than one penny goes towards health plan profits, and it's time Washington addressed the other 99 cents," he told HuffPost. He added that health insurance profits are lower than returns in other health care sectors.
In January, Stark will lose control of the subcommittee as a result of last Tuesday's election.
The letter, sent on Wednesday, is addressed to the heads of UnitedHealthcare, WellPoint, Aetna, Human, Coventry, AmeriGroup, HealthSpring, HealthNet, Centene and Molina.