NY health premiums to rise $1 billion

Sep 5, 2014

Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, gave insurance companies half of what they asked for.
Credit AP/Mike Groll

New York is allowing health insurance companies to raise premiums an average of 5.7 percent for individuals, and 6.7 percent for small groups. This is, however, roughly half of what insurance companies claimed was the cost of providing health care.

Insurance companies participating in the state's health exchange asked regulators for an average increase of around 13 percent over last year.

According to New York's Department of Financial Services, insurance companies were hoping to get a total of $2 billion more from consumers. Instead, DFS says they will get an extra $1 billion in 2015.

Consumer health advocates were happy with the rate ruling. They said it struck a middle ground between what other states have increased premiums by and what the Congressional Budget Office estimates as the rising cost of healthcare, roughly 3 percent.

"That seems eminently reasonable to me," said Elisabeth Benjamin, co-founder of Healthcare for All New York, a consumer health nonprofit.

The increases differ per insurer. Aetna Health, for example, will raise rates nearly 8 percent, while rates for NothShore LIJ's Care Connect will drop more than 14 percent.

Officials say that individual rates for 2015 are more than half of what they were before the Affordable Care Act.