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Four Mass. health insurers post operating losses

The state’s big nonprofit health insurance companies all started the year with financial losses.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan, and Fallon Health attributed the losses to rising prescription drug costs, higher use of medical services, and the Affordable Care Act.

The insurers pay tens of millions of dollars in taxes and fees as part of the federal health care law and must record those costs in the first quarter of each year.

Three of the four insurers lost more money in the first three months of 2016 than during the same period in 2015.


Blue Cross, the state’s largest insurer, recorded $77.8 million in operating losses for the three-month period ending March 31, compared with $73.1 million in the same quarter last year.

At Harvard Pilgrim, the losses amounted to $36.6 million, compared with $19.6 million last year.

The operating loss at Tufts was $28 million, up from $24.2 million last year.

“While first quarter 2016 earnings are on track with our plan, they also reflect the challenges we continue to face from the high cost of specialty drugs and unpredictable ACA-related costs,” Tufts chief financial officer Umesh Kurpad said in a news release.

The smallest of the four companies, Fallon, lost $6.4 million, slightly less than last year’s $6.6 million loss.

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.