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NY approves health insurance rate hikes for 2017

August 5, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York regulators have approved health insurance rates for 2017, hiking premiums about 8 percent for small group plans and almost 17 percent for individual plans.

The Department of Financial Services said rising health care costs and the federal reinsurance program’s termination are pushing up rates. The approved increases overall are about one-fourth less than what insurers’ originally proposed.

“While premiums are increasing nationally, New York’s rates are comparable or lower than rates requested and approved in other states,” department Superintendent Maria Vullo said. New rates will be effective Jan. 1.

The small group plans enroll more than 1 million New Yorkers whose employers have 100 or fewer staff. The individual plans have about 350,000 people enrolled. Those coverages extend to millions of their dependents, as well.

Paul Macielak, chief executive of the New York Health Plan Association, said the premium rate approvals acknowledge the rising health care costs confronting insurance plans and prior years’ losses compounded by two years of overall rate reductions. Other dynamics are new mandated benefits and the federal risk reduction program that has affected some insurers more significantly than others, he said.

Approved increases in the individual market included 11.6 percent for Fidelis, 15.4 percent for Excellus and 8 percent for Aetna.

In the small group market, the department approved increases of 5.3 percent for United HealthCare, 10.4 percent for Healthnow New York and 18.8 percent for MetroPlus.

The rates announced Friday include coverage through New York’s health exchange, where Vullo said more than half those buying coverage will get a tax credit offsetting premium increases.

Rate changes won’t affect more than 600,000 lower-income New Yorkers projected to enroll in the exchange’s “essential plan,” with monthly premiums of $20 or less, according to the department.

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