2004-04-23 / Community

Pheffer: Check Insurance Costs

Pheffer: Check Insurance Costs

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer is urging the State Senate to follow the Assembly lead and pass legislation which will empower the State Insurance Department (SID) to review rate hikes greater than 5% for individuals and small businesses (A.6852-A/S. 3757-A).

This would allow individuals and small businesses purchasing health insurance coverage the same consumer protections as New York State enjoys as the primary payer for public programs.

This issue comes on the heels of a recent Court of Appeals ruling that the State Insurance Department cannot intervene to decrease health plan rate hikes (Excellus Health Plan v. Gregory Serio).

The law requiring the State Insurance Department’s prior approval of health plan rate hikes expired in 2000. Before 2000, the SID repeatedly used its influence to modify the levels of insurance and health plan rate increases, sometimes rejecting them outright.

Currently, health plans need prior approval of rate changes from either the SID or the Department of Health for 40,000 Healthy New York program enrollees, over 1 million Medicaid Managed Care enrollees, over 350,000 in the Family Health Plus program, as well as over 400,000 Child Health Plus

"Failure to act on this legislation will leave more than 100,000 New Yorkers who pay for their own coverage and tens of thousands of small businesses in New York State unfairly fending for themselves." said Pheffer.

"Given that these healthcare consumers are still reeling from four successive years of double-digit rate hikes, this legislation is an important step in supporting New Yorkers." said Pheffer.

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