New Yorkers will save more than $500 million on health insurance premiums in 2013 because the Department of Financial Services (DFS) cut rate increase requests by insurers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a media release Sunday.
Health insurers requested weighted average increases of approximately 12.4 percent, but DFS, under the two-year-old law that gives it the power to review rate requests, cut the average increase to 7.5 percent.
The DFS rate actions affect health insurance policies covering about 2.3 million New Yorkers, mostly in small groups, plus people covered by large group HMOs, individual direct-pay plans and Medicare Supplement policies. DFS approved new insurance company rate filings that will be used by insurers to charge premiums beginning in January.
“We have made progress in holding back rates, but we recognize that much more needs to be done,” Cuomo said. “This administration is firmly committed to making sure that health insurance is available to all New Yorkers. It must be made affordable by identifying ways that can be used to restrain the rising cost of health care services.”
Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky said: “Rising health insurance costs are a major burden for businesses and families. The Department of Financial Services will continue to work with consumer groups, insurers, hospitals and other stakeholders to hold down the rate at which insurance premiums are increasing.”
Elisabeth R. Benjamin, vice president of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York and a co-founder of Health Care for All New York, which filed public objections to the insurers’ rate requests, said: “This is a crucial victory for New York’s small businesses and families who face a daily struggle with rising health care costs. These rate roll-backs demonstrate the profound impact health care reform is having on New Yorkers and our small businesses.”