SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 02:16 PM (EDT)

AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of BCBSM, Inc. and HMO Minnesota; Revises ICR Outlook to Negative for MII Life Insurance, Inc.


CONTACTS:
 Jennifer Asamoah
Financial Analyst
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5203
jennifer.asamoah@ambest.com

Bridget Maehr
Associate Director
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5321
bridget.maehr@ambest.com
Christopher Sharkey
Manager, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5159
christopher.sharkey@ambest.com

Jim Peavy
Director, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5644
james.peavy@ambest.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OLDWICK - SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 02:16 PM (EDT)
AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Ratings (Long-Term ICR) of “a-” of BCBSM, Inc., d/b/a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBSM), and its subsidiary, HMO Minnesota, d/b/a Blue Plus (Blue Plus). In addition, AM Best has affirmed the Long-Term Issue Credit Rating of “bbb+” on the $250 million 3.79% senior unsecured notes due 2025 issued by BCBSM. The outlook of the Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable. Both companies are domiciled in Eagan, MN.

Concurrently, AM Best has revised the outlook to negative from stable for the Long-Term ICR and affirmed the FSR of B++ (Good) and the Long-Term ICR of “bbb+” of MII Life Insurance, Incorporated (MII Life) (Eagan, MN). The outlook of the FSR is stable.

The ratings of BCBSM and HMO Minnesota reflect their balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as strong, as well as their adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

The ratings of BCBSM continue to be supported by strong risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). BCBSM has been able to grow capital organically, even after dividend payments in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue in the near term. Furthermore, financial flexibility is enhanced through access to Federal Home Loan Bank borrowings and lines of credit with several banks. Through mid-2020, BCBSM has reported stronger underwriting and net income with favorable results across its various core product lines. The company has very good brand name recognition and maintains a solid market position in Minnesota, with a large membership base and a diverse product portfolio. Membership gains have been robust over the most recent five-year period, and through mid-2020. Nevertheless, there is a geographic limitation to its business based on the Blue Cross Blue Shield licenses. Offsetting factors include earnings volatility and capital-position pressure from dividend payments to the parent holding company, Aware Integrated, Inc.

The ratings of MII Life reflect the company’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best categorizes as weak, as well as adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate ERM.

The revised Long-Term ICR outlook to negative for MII Life is based on continued pressure on its balance sheet strength assessment through mid-2020, driven by COVID-19-fueled market volatility. Risk-adjusted capital, as measured by BCAR, is expected to remain at the weak level in support of its current business and investment risk. In addition, the company operates in a very competitive consumer-driven health marketplace, and there continues to be concern with the underlying credit quality of some of its investment holdings and historical dependence on capital support from its parent.

MII Life ratings also consider the implicit and explicit support from its ultimate parent, Aware Integrated, Inc. The stable FSR outlook reflects MII Life’s strategic importance to the organization, as it provides opportunities for revenue and earnings diversification through health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, voluntary employee beneficiary association and a Medicare Part D product for prescription drug coverage. MII Life also writes medical stop-loss insurance, which it reinsures to its affiliate, BCBSM. MII Life plans to discontinue the Medicare Part D product in 2021. MII Life has operated as a medical spending account administrator for over 25 years and ranks as one of the leading administrators in the United States. It also is positioned among the top voluntary employee beneficiary association administrators. The company has reported a strong growth trend by number of accounts, total deposits and revenue, with continued profitability over the past several years.

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper media use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best press releases, please view Guide for Media - Proper Use of Best’s Credit Ratings and AM Best Rating Action Press Releases.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in New York, London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City.


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