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Deadline Approaching for Insurance Increases

The average requested insurance rate increase for individual plans is 18.1 percent. (Pictures of Money/
The average requested insurance rate increase for individual plans is 18.1 percent. (Pictures of Money/
June 9, 2016

NEW YORK – The cost of health insurance is going up, but consumers can have a say on proposed increases.

Insurers have asked New York state's Department of Financial Services for increases that average just over 18 percent for individual plans, and a little less for small group plans.

The public has until June 17 to submit written comments if anyone feels the increases are unreasonable, excessive or discriminatory.

According to Heidi Siegfried, project director of New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage, those comments can make a difference.

"In 2015 the average requested increase was 10.4 percent and they reduced it to 7.1 percent," she points out.

Comments can be entered online on the DFS website.

Siegfried says low-income New Yorkers who don't get insurance through their jobs can get subsidies to help pay their premiums. But those subsidies aren't available to those making above 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

"So that can take a good chunk of your budget to pay that and to feel safe and secure that you're going to be able to get medical care when you need it," she states.

Siegfried says DFS evaluates insurance companies' claims that rising medical costs or a consumer base with more health problems justify requested premium increases.

"It should also take into consideration what consumers are experiencing when they have premium increases that they think are unreasonable," she points out.

Most proposed increases that are approved by DFS will go into effect on Jan. 1 of next year.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY