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Health & Wellness

NYS cuts proposed health insurance rate increases


New York State has cut many of the  health insurance increases proposed earlier this year by insurance companies.

Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo says that the Department of Financial services has reduced health insurers’ 2019 requested rates for the individual market overall by 64 percent. The rates for small group plans were cut by 50 percent overall.

The largest market share for individuals in the Buffalo Niagara area is held by Fidelis, which saw its rate for individual plans cut nearly 65 percent, from a requested increase of 38.6 percent to 13.7 percent.

Cuomo had said last week that he ordered the Department of Financial Services to reject requests by health insurance companies to raise rates in response to actions by the Trump administration to weaken the Affordable Care Act.

On Friday evening, Vullo said that the state would not allow the federal government’s “wrongful appeal of the individual mandate penalty to become a self-fulfilling prophecy to make health insurance unaffordable in New York.” Vullo also said that due to the Affordable Care Act, the impact of the 2019 rate increases will be mitigated by increased federal tax subsidies for some individuals who buy coverage through the New York State of Health marketplace.

State officials say that the main driver behind the rate increases are medical costs going up including pharmaceutical prices, inpatient hospital costs, specialist physician services, diagnostic testing and ambulatory surgery.

These rate decisions do not include the Essential Plan, available only through the New York State of Health, which will still have premiums of $20 or less for lower income New Yorkers who qualify. Approximately 740,000 New Yorkers are projected to be enrolled in the Essential Plan in 2018.

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