Blue Cross earned $22 million profit in 2017 after two years of losses

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island's headquarters in Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island turned a profit in 2017, a successful course correction for the state’s largest health insurer following two years of losses.

In a regulatory filing, Blue Cross said its net income was $22.6 million for the year, compared with a loss of $35 million in 2016. Revenue was close to flat, at $1.7 billion. Medical expenses totaled $1.5 billion, while administrative expenses totaled $169 million.

The insurer’s net reserves – a key measure of its solvency – rose from $267 million to $293 million during the year, recovering almost entirely from a dip caused by the losses in 2016. Another key measure, its insurance underwriting, showed a profit of $8 million following a loss of $22 million in 2016.

In a statement, Blue Cross President and CEO Kim Keck noted that almost half the company’s 2017 profit came from a one-time gain of $10.7 million on its investment portfolio, “which does not carry over into 2018.”

“Additionally, for most of 2017, our members required fewer inpatient hospitals stays, had fewer expensive procedures like joint replacements, and had better access to prenatal care resulting in fewer babies needing expensive neonatal care,” she said.

Blue Cross has about 400,000 members. Keck said the company is “focused on meeting our members where they are and helping them to be engaged health care consumers” in 2018, citing investments in telemedicine and technology as well as its three Your Blue Store retail locations in Warwick, East Providence and Lincoln.

Blue Cross currently has 780 employees, a spokeswoman said.

One of Rhode Island’s other two major health insurers, UnitedHealthcare of New England, earned a net profit of $24 million on $975 million of revenue in 2017, according to its filing. Neighborhood Health Plan requested an extension to file its earnings report later in March.

Ted Nesi ( covers politics and the economy for He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook