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Health & Wellness

Health insurance companies request rate changes for 2019

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Health insurers across New York have submitted their requested rates for 2019, with an average 24 percent hike for individuals.

The rates have not yet been approved by the state.

Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo said the single biggest justification offered by insurers for the requested increases for individuals is the Trump Administration’s repeal of the individual mandate penalty. The individual mandate, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, helped mitigate against dramatic price increases by ensuring healthier insurance pools.

Vullo said insurers have attributed approximately half of their requested rate increases to the risks they see resulting from its repeal. She said without the federal action, the average requested rate increase would be 12.1 percent.

Among local insurers, Fidelis has requested a 12.7 percent increase without the mandate repeal, 25.9 percent with the repeal, and a total rate increase of 38.6 percent. HealthNow has requested a 3.2 percent decrease without the repeal, no rate change with the repeal and a total 3.2 percent decrease in rates.

Eric Linzer, the President and CEO of the New York Health Plan Association said that the proposed premium rate requests “are reasonable, reflecting the cost of care and taking into account a number of factors contributing to rising health care costs." He said among those factors are the cost of prescription drugs, prices charged by doctors, hospitals and other clinicians, and changes at the federal level.

Democratic National Committee Northeast Press Secretary Elizabeth Renda released a statement, saying Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have made it harder for New York families to access quality care.

"New York’s health insurers are seeking to raise premium rates by double digits next year, with one of the state’s largest insurers proposing an average rate increase of 38.6 percent," Renda said. "Quality, affordable health care should be a right for all Americans, not a privilege for the wealthy few.”

Vullo said that as the state reviews the requested increases, they will continue to ensure that any hikes are justified by appropriate medical cost increases.

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