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New York Healthcare Premiums Are About To Explode

Barack Obama
Barack Obama


Insurance companies operating in New York State's marketplace are expected to ask for double-digit premium hikes next year, according to new filings from the companies.

Capital New York reports the average requested increase was 13%. The New York Post reports that number at about 12%. But the bigger insurers are seeking a bigger premium hike — according to Capital, the six most popular plans in New York are requesting an average increase of almost 15%.

The Post reports that Excellus Health Plan, which has about 24,000 customers, is requesting a 19.7% hike. MVP Health Plan, which has nearly 33,000 customers, is seeking a 19% increase. New York's largest insurer on the exchange — Health Republic Insurance of New York, which has 68,000 customers — is requesting a 15% increase.

The requests from states are being closely watched, after the end of the first open-enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. According to the reports, insurers cited a number of reasons for the proposed premium hikes in their filings, including rising medical costs, having a sicker and/or older pool of customers, and new regulations and taxes levied by Obamacare.

"Our goal in pricing is to match expected medical spending — including medical costs, utilization and mandated coverage — with premiums. Other factors include plan design and new taxes and fees," Maria Gordon Shydlo, a spokeswoman at UnitedHealthCare, told the Post.

Health insurance premiums rise every year. But insurers' proposed increase is markedly higher than average — though there is little data with which it can directly be compared. According to a study released by the Commonwealth Fund, which supports the Affordable Care Act, individual health insurance premiums rose by more than 10% on average in the three years before President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law.

In 2008, according to the study premiums grew by an average of 9.9%, by 10.8% the following year, and by 11.7% in 2011. According to the study, there was also considerable variation across states. For example, in 2008, premiums increased by about 3% in Iowa, compared with about 20% in Connecticut.

Insurers within individual states have requested varying increases — and even decreases — so far next year. In Connecticut, two insurers are proposing to raise premiums by more than 10%, while one insurer, HealthyCT, is proposing almost a 9% decrease.

Another example: In Arizona, Cigna requested an average rate hike of 14.4%. Humana, though, is looking for a startling 25.5% increase, according to The Arizona Republic.

This post was updated at 8:25 p.m. ET.

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