Health insurers ask for big rate hikes

New York health insurers are asking for premium increases of as much as 45 percent for 2017 as they try to combat rising costs and, in some instances, offset mega losses.

In a statement released Wednesday, the New York Health Plan Association said the hikes “reflect increases that are the direct result of the underlying cost of care and marketplace changes that continue to impact health plans’ operations.”

The average requested increase for individual plans was 17.3 percent. For small group coverage, the requested rate hike averaged 12 percent.

CareConnect, the insurance arm of Northwell Health, requested a 29.2 percent average increase, while UnitedHealthcare, which has been forced to pull out of insurance marketplaces in several other states, asked for a 45.6 percent increase in premiums.

Health insurance startup Oscar asked for an 18.4 percent average increase. The firm blamed higher medical costs, declining government support and the rising amount of care demanded by members.

“We don’t like raising premiums for our members, but the economics of this market demand as much,” the company said in a statement.

New York’s Department of Financial Services can review the rates and force insurers to lower them. Last year, for example, insurers asked for average rate hikes of more than 10 percent but were allowed about 7 percent.

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