Blue Cross parent posts $281.9M loss in first year of PPACA exchanges

The largest nonprofit health insurer in the country, Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., which is the Blue Cross & Blue Shield insurer for Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, reported a $281.9 million loss in 2014, compared with a $684.3 million surplus the year prior, according to a Crain's Chicago Business report.

Last year was the first year Americans could purchase health insurance through the public exchanges, causing the number of medical claims to rise significantly, which affected HCSC's finances, according to the report. For instance, the health insurer, which had nearly 2 million members as of March 31, saw its prescription drug costs soar 43 percent last year.

Although the health insurer posted a loss for the year, its revenue increased 22 percent in 2014, according to the report.

HCSC expects to have a more positive financial picture in years to come. "Over time, as we have more experience on the exchanges, and that market stabilizes, we expect to see lower expenses and results that will maintain our financial strength while continuing to provide our members with cost-effective products, services and peace of mind," an HCSC spokesperson said in a statement released to Crain's.

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