May 15, 2017 | 1:43am | Updated
New York’s health insurers will request double-digit rate increases for ObamaCare policies for 2018 while debate rages in Washington on overhauling the law, analysts told The Post.
The insurers officially submit their rate plans to state regulators on Monday.
Last year, the state Department of Financial Services approved an average 16.6 percent hike for individual policies and an average 8.3 percent for small group policies on the state’s ObamaCare exchange — the highest in four years.
Insurers sought higher increases last year, but regulators trimmed the requests following a financial review.
The uncertainty over Republican efforts to overhaul or replace the Affordable Care Act may spur insurers to seek even higher hikes in medical premiums, said Bill Hammond, health policy director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.
“New York health plans have requested double-digit rate hikes in each of the past three years, and it’s a safe bet they will do so again,” Hammond said.
“The driving forces would include an underlying increase in health care costs, the Trump administration’s repeated threats to withhold $8 billion in promised subsidies, and uncertainty about ObamaCare’s future, given the attempts to repeal and replace it with something very different,” Hammond said.
Hammond said another factor is that President Trump’s Internal Revenue Service is signaling weaker enforcement of the tax penalties for not carrying insurance — the individual mandate — which could cause some younger, healthier people to drop coverage, leaving behind a costlier risk pool of older and sicker subscribers. The association representing New York’s health insurers said double-digit rate requests are all but certain, especially given proposed increases in surrounding states.
In neighboring Connecticut, the only two insurers on the ObamaCare exchange are seeking premium increases ranging from 15 percent to 34 percent. Insurers in Maryland and Virginia also requested double-digit increases, some as high as 60 percent.
“We would expect something similar to Connecticut. The cost of doing business in New York is higher than Connecticut,” said Leslie Moran of the New York Health Plan Association.
New York’s state-run ObamaCare exchange — called New York State of Health — has been more stable than most other states’, with fewer insurers dropping out.
The 16.6 percent increase in the individual market last year was below the 25 percent average nationally.
Meanwhile, most New Yorkers enrolled through the ACA would be shielded from big increases because they either qualify for public health insurance or receive tax credits under ObamaCare that grow along with premium hikes.
There are 3.6 million New Yorkers who obtain health insurance through the ACA. That’s about 18 percent, or nearly one in five New Yorkers.
But more than two-thirds — 2.72 million — obtain coverage through public health insurance programs Medicaid and Child Health Plus.
Another 665,324 lower-income residents are enrolled in the heavily subsidized Essential Plan for those who don’t qualify for Medicaid but have incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
The remaining 242,880 are enrolled in private health plans and 59 percent receive tax credits.