Gregory Deavens

Gregory E. Deavens is the president and CEO of Independence Health Group.

—INDEPENDENCE BLUE CROSS PHOTO

Despite the pandemic, Independence Health Group has reported profits for 2020.

The parent group of Independence Blue Cross saw strong year-over-year top-line growth, ending 2020 with $21.8 billion in revenue, which was up 13.5% over 2019. When revenue is combined with claims paid on behalf of self-funded employers, Independence had health care funds under management of $29.5 billion in 2020, up from $27 billion in 2019.

“2020 was not business as usual but we remained focused on our mission while maintaining a solid foundation,” Gregory E. Deavens, Independence president and CEO said.

“Our diversified strategy and focus on maintaining the strong balance sheet allowed us to weather the pandemic while continuing to bring leadership, critical support and stability to our market,” he said.

Officials said the organization’s year-over-year growth was driven in part by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a one-time financial recovery tied to funds already expended in years past under the Affordable Care Act Risk Corridor Program.

As a result of its performance, Independence contributed $10 million to the AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership and $30 million to the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, the largest cash gift to the foundation since its inception 10 years ago.

Independence had net income of $622 million in 2020, which includes $120 million in unrealized investment gains. In 2020, Independence saw a net increase margin of 2.9% of total premium revenue, up from 1.7% in 2019.

“Our results reflect steady stewardship of premium dollars with 82.8 cents of each premium dollar spent on medical costs,” Deavens said.

“They also reflect the impacts of COVID-19. We incurred more than $300 million in claims for testing and treatment for our insured members.”

He noted that the pandemic also caused a decrease in utilization of elective and non-emergency services.

During 2020, Independence committed nearly $700 million to COVID-related initiatives and activities including policy changes, premium credits, provider support and donations to civic efforts such as the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium and the COVID-19 Fund.

The company paid more than $1.1 billion in federal, state and local non-payroll taxes, including $310 million for the Health Insurer Fee and state premium taxes and other Affordable Care Act-related taxes and fees.

During 2020, Independence’s expansion of telemedicine and telehealth services drove more than 2.4 million telemedicine claims, up from 26,000 claims in 2019. The 2020 claims totaled more than $182 million in telehealth visits.

Deavens said the company expects more members to use their health care in 2021 as they start using services again where applicable and continue to seek services related to COVID-19 for testing, treatment and vaccinations.

He also highlighted some of Independence’s goals.

“From a strategic perspective, a major focus over the next several years for Independence will be promoting equitable, whole-person health care for our members,” Deavens said. “This effort involves an enhanced focus on behavioral health, as well as working to reduce and ultimately eliminate the health inequities that adversely impact communities of color and those who are economically disadvantaged.”

Deavens said he’s optimistic about our ongoing efforts to help beat COVID-19 and the strength of the organization.

“As a corporate and community partner, we are working to address vaccine hesitancy (and) increase access while continuing to help our members get the care they need to stay well,” he said.

Through its subsidiaries, Independence served 8.1 million members nationwide in 2020. The organization ended the year with a $3.9 billion surplus.

“We’re well-positioned for long-term stability and will continue to meet the evolving needs of our members, customers, health care providers and the community,” Deavens added.

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