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FL HMO profits for last year $675 million

With premiums and co-pays rising and insurers' spending on medical care dropping, Florida HMOs are rolling in cash.

As of December, they had earned an 18 percent profit -- more than $675 million -- last year, according to a report from the Office of Insurance Regulation.

That's up from an impressive $575 million in 2009.

The profits were based on revenue from premiums of $19.1 billion, according to the South Florida Business Journal, a subscription-only publication.

Humana really rocked, with profits of more than $330 million between its commercial and Medicare plans in Florida.

Humana spokesman Mitch Lubitz said the company's emphasis on preventive care paid off in better health and reduced costs. The company has invested heavily in a St. Petersburg-based call center staffed with nurses who keep in close touch with members who are chronically ill.

Humana customer Judith Postol said that Humana representatives do call her to make sure she gets the proper tests, such as mammograms. But it also raised co-payments for a life-saving drug that keeps her platelet levels from dropping too low.

"They're trying to cut back on expenses by keeping you healthy, and that's a good thing," she said. "But then they cut back on so many things that I need. It can't always be about profits--or it shouldn't be anyway."

Aetna, the second most profitable company, earned almost $76 million; United Healthcare/Neighborhood Health came in third with more than $72 million.

Several companies, such as Sunshine State Healthplan and Molina Healthcare, lost money.