NY insurers, citing coronavirus costs, seek big hikes in 2021. Check your plan
ALBANY — Health insurers in New York are seeking an average rate increase of 11.7% in 2021, citing the growing cost of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state Department of Financial Services quietly posted the proposed rate increases on its website late Friday.
The rates increases sought by the 13 insurers range from 19% for the Manhattan-based Oscar to 1.5% for Excellus, the Rochester-based insurer.
Two insurers, IHBC and Healthnow New York, are proposing decreases in rates of 1.9% and 3.7% respectively.
For small-group insurance, the companies proposed a similar 11.4% average rate increase.
The New York Health Plan Association, which represents insurers, called the proposed 2021 premium rate requests “reasonable and fair.”
It said the increases are needed to address rises in health-care costs, but also to the needs due to COVID-19, which has killed more than 24,000 New Yorkers — by far the most in the nation.
“From the outset and throughout the continuing coronavirus crisis, New York’s health plans have made extraordinary efforts to meet the needs of consumers, businesses and our health care partners,” Eric Linzer, the group's president, said in a statement.
“This has included waiving copayments and cost sharing for COVID-19 testing, telehealth services and mental health services for essential workers," he said, "and providing cash advances and other support to hospitals, physician practices and others in the delivery system to address the financial uncertainty they’re facing."
The Department of Financial Services will now review the requests and announce in August whether it will accept them or lower them. Typically, the state approves lower rate hikes than the insurers propose.
Last year, for example, the insurers sought an average 9.2% rate increase, but the state cut it to an average of 6.8%.
The agency said it does not comment on the rate-approval process.
About 1.3 million New Yorkers last year got their health-care coverage from private insurers, while nearly 5 million people get their insurance through the NY State of Health, the state's public health exchange set up under Obamacare in 2010.
Most of the insurers offer plans under the exchange, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month announced a special enrollment period through June 15 for anyone who lost their job due to the virus.
Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany