Blue Cross profits rebound from recession

Posted March 1, 2011 5:46 p.m. EST

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state's largest insurer, made almost $168 million last year, according to figures released Tuesday, but officials say the company's profit margin remains below targeted levels.

Profits soared by 56 percent from the $107 million Blue Cross made in 2009, when the company was battered by slow membership growth and poor stock market performance amid the down economy. Blue Cross posted profits of $186 million and $209 million in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

Blue Cross reported $5.2 billion in revenue in 2010.

"Overall, the company’s performance was strong last year. While many insurers lost customers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is holding its own," President and Chief Executive Brad Wilson said in a statement. "We’re taking steps to trim administrative costs, and we remain focused on meeting the health care needs of our customers every day as we begin to implement health reform.”

Premiums went up by an average of 5.37 percent last year, and Blue Cross said more than 86 percent of the revenue from premiums paid for medical claims, officials said. Much of the remainder went toward customer service and technology expenses, they said.

Blue Cross' 3.2 percent profit margin last year was up from 2.1 percent in 2009, but it remained below the company's target of 3.5 to 4.5 percent, officials said.

Three top executives at the insurer made more than $1 million in salary, bonus and other compensation last year, led by Wilson at almost $1.9 million. Executive Vice President Maureen O'Connor made almost $1.3 million, and Senior Vice President John Roos made $1 million.

Two years ago, six Blue Cross executives topped $1 million in annual earnings.