New York insurers seek double-digit health premium increases
New York’s health insurance companies are seeking premium rate increas- es averaging 16.6% in the individual market and 11.5% in the small-group market next year. The Cuomo administration is reviewing the requests published last week on the website of the Department of Financial Services, which ultimately sets each insurer’s rate.
Insurers have complained that the state in recent years has kept rates artificially low. But it’s a balancing act. Premiums that are too low can drive insurers out of the market or, in the case of Health Republic Insurance of New York, bankrupt them when premiums don’t cover costs.
However, that delicate balance could be thrown out of whack this year if Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes good on his recent threat to ban insurers that leave the marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act from participating in Medicaid. Insurers have questioned the legality of Cuomo’s directive. The Democrat has moved to maintain the Obamacare exchanges, where nearly a quarter-million New Yorkers get their insurance.
UnitedHealthcare is looking for the biggest premium rate increase in the downstate area: 38.5% for plans in the individual market. Last year it sought a 45.6% increase, but the state granted it a hike of 28%. On the lower end, NYC Health & Hospitals’ Metro-Plus requested a premium rate increase of 7.9%. Last year MetroPlus asked for an average increase of 20.3% across its plans. The state ultimately increased that request to 29.2%.