BOSTON (SHNS) – Officials in the state’s hospital industry have their eye on health insurance companies’ financials and are tracking growth in income and statutory net worth during the COVID-19 emergency.

The Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association next month plans to release its semi-annual health plan performance report, monitoring insurers’ enrollment and financial data for calendar year 2021. An early look the figures, featured in the MHA’s Monday Report newsletter, showed a 22 percent increase in health insurance company net worth during the pandemic, to a total of $6.1 billion across all Massachusetts health plans.

The MHA noted in its newsletter that health insurers have played important roles during the pandemic, covering treatment, therapies, vaccines and testing for COVID-19. In keeping with federal law, insurers also gave rebates to premium payers when use of health care services fell amid pauses on elective procedures and other social distancing measures early in the pandemic, and some health plans “independently deployed financial support and capital to stabilize providers and leveraged their resources and community relationships to support the outbreak response,” the newsletter said.

“Despite these new expenses and efforts related to the COVID-19 emergency, health insurance company profits were substantially higher than at any point in recent history given the overwhelming effect of decreased medical utilization,” the MHA wrote. “Aggregate net income across Massachusetts health plans was $637 million in 2020 and $467 million in 2021, a $1.2 billion profit during the pandemic years – exceeding the previous five years combined.”

A Center for Health Information and Analysis report released last week said the statewide median hospital operating margin was 1.2 percent in fiscal 2021, down 0.1 percentage points compared to fiscal 2020. At 0.6 percent, the operating margin was lowest for community hospitals. In the state’s deregulated market, many of the battles over how health care dollars are spent are waged during private negotiations between insurance and care providers such as hospitals.