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NY insurers eye 16.6% hike for ObamaCare rates

June 8, 2017
  • Another hefty increase for New Yorkers who don’t get subsidies
  • Last year, insurers sought 18% hike, regulator allowed 16.6%

Health insurers in New York are seeking another year of hefty premium increases for their Affordable Care Act plans, adding fuel to the debate over the law’s future.

Insurers are seeking to boost their premiums 16.6 percent on average for 2018, the state Department of Financial Services said Wednesday. While that’s not as high as the 18 percent hike they requested last year, it’s still a substantial increase in cost for New Yorkers who don’t get help from subsidies under Obamacare.

The companies are grappling with an uncertain future for Obamacare as they craft their plans for next year, and rate increases have varied widely among states. Republicans in Congress are working to repeal portions of the health law, while President Donald Trump has called Obamacare a failure and raised doubts about whether he’d pay subsidies known as cost-sharing reductions to insurers. Meanwhile, major insurers including Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. have largely exited the health law’s markets.

In New York, 16 insurers submitted rate filings in the individual Obamacare market, and the requested increases ranging from 4.4 percent to 47.3 percent, depending on the insurer. The state regulator can require the companies to adjust their requests. Last year, after adjustment, the regulator allowed for a 16.6 percent hike.

Blaming D.C.

The state provided little information on what’s behind the increases, and the insurers’ filings weren’t immediately available online. But insurers and regulators in other states have laid the blame for some of their premium increases on uncertainty from Washington. The key questions include whether the Trump administration will enforce the requirement, known as the individual mandate, that all people buy health insurance, and whether it’ll pay the subsidies.

The wide range across states and companies is a testament to the the haziness of the market.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, the regulator required insurers to submit their rate requests assuming smooth sailing, leading to a relatively smaller 8.8 percent request. But if the mandate isn’t enforced and subsidies aren’t paid, Pennsylvania’s insurers said they’d need to boost rates 36.3 percent.

In North Carolina, the dominant BlueCross BlueShield plan is raising them about 23 percent. But the insurer would have increased rates just 8.8 percent if it had certainty on the subsidies, which are known as cost-sharing reduction payments. In Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut, premiums will rise more than 20 percent on average, according to data compiled by and Bloomberg.

CareConnect, the health insurer owned by Northwell Health, requested a 29.7 percent increase for individual plans in New York, saying the hike was “part of a continuing correction and is an unavoidable response to this population’s unexpectedly large and continuing need for medical care.”


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