health insurance

Health insurance premiums likely to go up in New York

Aug 4, 2016
Pictures of Money / Flickr

New York State will soon release the rates it’s approved for premiums for health insurance.

Insurers filed their requests to the state earlier this year for the premiums they want to charge in 2017. In general, they asked for bigger increases than they have in the past.

But bigger increases to premiums are expected across the country. Cynthia Cox, Associate Director of Health Reform and Private Insurance at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said this expected boost is a correction of sorts.

Insuring young adults

May 13, 2016
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More young adults go without health insurance than any other age group. The Affordable Care Act made it possible for anyone up to age 26 to stay on his or her parent’s medical insurance. But how exactly does that work? This week on WRVO's health and wellness show "Take Care," hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen speak with Kevin Counihan, the CEO of healthcare.gov, the federal government's health care exchange.

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The Affordable Care Act marketplaces have led to a bunch of new research. One study out this month looked at concentration of hospitals and insurance plans in New York and California.

The research on hospitals is pretty clear: fewer hospitals in a region means higher premiums.

But on a different metric, results varied state to state: the concentration of insurance plans available in a region didn’t have the same impact on insurance prices.

How to be a smart health insurance consumer

Jan 9, 2016
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It might seem like there’s nothing more confusing than choosing a health insurance plan. Insurance and health terms alike can seem like a foreign language. And all most consumers want is a plan that’s going to help keep them healthy without breaking the bank.

This week on “Take Care,” Erin Singleton helps translate the complicated world of health insurance. Singleton is chief of mission delivery at the Patient Advocate Foundation, a national non-profit that helps individuals resolve issues related to their medical diagnosis.

Comparing health insurance plans can be a confusing and complicated process. PPO, HMO and EPO may seem like they’re part of a foreign language. But this week on WRVO's health and wellness show “Take Care,” hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen speak with Erin Singleton of the Patient Advocate Foundation. She helps decipher the meaning and importance of things like co-pays, deductibles and shared costs.

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New York insurance agents call on the state to compensate providers for losses in the wake of the Health Republic shut down.

Several sources estimate health care providers are owed tens of millions of dollars after Health Republic was forced to close.

State and federal regulators stepped in to dissolve the health insurance co-op earlier this year citing financial insolvency.

The New York State Association of Health Underwriters released a statement Monday that calls for the state to use surplus funds to make up for lost funds.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A low-cost, low-co-pay health insurance plan is now available for low income earners in New York state. The Essential Plan offers ten health benefits for less than $20 a month for anyone making less than $24,000. Steve Wood of ACR Health said the plan is very affordable.

"No deductible. Very low co-pays," Wood said. "I think the highest co-pay is about $150 for a hospital stay. Prescriptions: very, very low cost. Everything else is very inexpensive."

One of the least expensive insurers on the New York health insurance exchange will be gone by the end of the year. Federal and state regulators intervened to shut down Health Republic Insurance of New York. With about 200,000 enrollees, it’s the fourth and also the largest co-op to get the ax this year.

Spokesperson for the New York State Department of Financial Services, Matt Anderson says the co-op was on the road to insolvency.

"The premiums that they charged simply were too low and didn’t ultimately cover their expenses," said Anderson.

An aging population and the Affordable Care Act help ensure the demand for physician assistants, physical therapists and other health care providers will continue, says Hugh Bonner, the former dean of Upstate Medical University’s College of Health Professions.

“Between 2000 and 2030, we will double the population of those 65 and older. We’ll go from essentially 35 million to 70 million people. That population also has a large number of individuals with chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes,” Bonner says.

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Health insurance companies are asking New York state to approve increases in 2016 premium costs.

If this year’s increase serves as a guide, 18 New York insurance companies will not be allowed to raise their premium rates the full 13.5 percent they’re requesting for 2016.

Last year, the state Department of Financial Services allowed plans on the individual insurance market to go up an average 5.7 percent, less than half the requested increase of nearly 14 percent.

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The New York Department of Financial Services will post the new coverage rates proposed by insurance companies and allow for public review starting next month.

Last year, the state allowed insurers an average increase of 5.7 percent. They had requested rates higher than 12 percent above the previous year.

About one in four Obamacare enrollees who signed up for high-deductible health insurance chose not to access any care last year, according to a new study.  Health advocates are calling for more states to adopt programs like one just announced in New York state that connect people with low-cost coverage.

An analysis of data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey showed more than 25 percent of people who bought non-group insurance last year did not use the coverage for needed services, like medical treatments, prescription drugs, and tests.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

 

The deadline to file your tax return is just under two months away. As many Americans file, they’re finding there are more questions about health insurance on the annual tax forms than ever before based on changes in place because of the Affordable Care Act.
 

In New York, and several other states, people who find they owe a penalty on their 2014 tax return will now have a special enrollment period to sign up for health coverage.

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  The final number of New Yorkers who signed up for health insurance through the state exchange this year tops a half a million.

New York State of Health Marketplace is claiming more than 564 thousand new enrollees for 2015. Add that to last year’s numbers and more than 2.1 million people have used the state exchange for health insurance in the first 2 years of the Affordable Care Act.

Donna Frescatore is the Executive Director of the state marketplace. She’s says a close to 90 percent renewal rate for people with private health plans points to stability.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The deadline is approaching to sign up for health insurance for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and one Syracuse agency that signs people up for plans wants to make sure the word about that deadline is out.

February 15 is the last day that individuals can buy health insurance during this year’s open enrollment period. People who don’t meet that deadline will face a tax penalty.

Steve Wood, of ACR Health in Syracuse, expects there will be people who won’t meet the deadline.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

With a month and a half left in the second open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, professionals who help connect New Yorkers with insurance see a change in how individuals approach health coverage this year.

Many health insurance professionals say New Yorkers understand Obamacare better this year.

Jeff Welcher, account consultant with Rochester-area Bene-Care, says choosing a plan is still not a decision to be taken lightly.

Healthcare open enrollment poses challenges for some

Dec 26, 2014
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For those with variable incomes, signing up for health insurance on the New York State of Health Marketplace can be tricky.

The application asks for information about income to help determine whether an individual qualifies for an advanced premium tax credit. In the case of a sole proprietor, it may not be clear how much they will make in any given year.

baasiilb15 / Flickr

High traffic on the New York State of Health website is to be expected, according to the head of the state exchange. Saturday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance that starts the first of the year.

So far, during this open enrollment period which started Nov. 15, more than 194,000 New Yorkers who didn't have health insurance have signed up.

Donna Frescatore, the executive director of the New York Health Benefit Exchange, says more than 40,000 of those were added since last week.

The state health department announced more than 154,000 previously uninsured New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance since open enrollment began Nov. 15.

Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives at the Community Service Society, a key navigator agency in New York, says her agency has experienced a high volume of requests for assistance enrolling in the state exchange, despite early speculation that it would be more difficult to reach uninsured people this year.

NY State of Health enrollment deadline extended

Dec 15, 2014
Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The national deadline to enroll in health care during the second year of open enrollment is today, December 15, but New York state has extended the deadline through Saturday, December 20.

If you plan to use the New York State of Health Marketplace to sign up for health care, you have five more days to enroll if you want your coverage to start on January 1. The extension applies for new or renewing coverage.

New Yorkers largely satisfied with new health insurance

Nov 18, 2014
WXXI File

Last month, Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 250 New York State residents new to insurance through the state exchange.

Ninety-two percent of those polled report being somewhat or completely satisfied with their coverage.

David Sandman, senior vice president of the New York State Health Foundation, says they were surprised by some of the results.

Open enrollment begins with window shopping

Nov 17, 2014
nystateofhealth.ny.gov

The second year of open enrollment for health insurance in both state and federal exchanges began over the weekend.

U.S. Health and Human Services opened HealthCare.gov early with a new “window-shopping” feature.

Jessica Kendall, director of the Enrollment Assister Network for FamiliesUSA, says the changes intend to make the process of purchasing health insurance easier.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

Officials for the New York State Health Exchange say $27 million will go to help residents connect with insurance -- the same amount as last year. The state health department says it’s ready for the second open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, starting November 15.

National health care advocates worry that most states will be investing less on support staff to help sign people up for insurance, than was invested last year.

Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, health equity director at Families USA, says the second year of the ACA open enrollment will need resources.

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Marijuana has been approved in New York for medicinal uses for people with certain ailments, but that doesn’t mean using it will be simple.

It’s a bit of a going-nowhere-fast loop when it comes to health insurance providers offering coverage for medicinal marijuana.

ACR Health in Syracuse is getting a lot of calls from people who signed up for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, and are worried their health insurance costs are rising. But the experts who signed hundreds of people up for insurance in central New York say not to worry.

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Syracuse police officers have reached a new labor contract with the city, more than three years after the old one expired.

It's not uncommon for police union contracts to lapse, but this one stretched on for a while, mostly over health care costs and coverage.

The new contract is for five years, but it applies retroactively to when the old one expired at the end of 2010. The 428 Syracuse police officers will have to pay about twice as much for health insurance, but will get two percent raises for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

There's only a week left in the enrollment period for people to sign up to get health care through the Affordable Care Act. But there’s been a steady flow of central New Yorkers signing up for insurance policies through the New York exchanges in advance of that deadline.

ACR Health in Syracuse has been helping people in a nine-county area sign on to plans. Community Health Director Steve Wood says things have been going well so far, with 3,500 people covered by health insurance who weren’t before.

There are less than two months left for people to sign on to a health insurance plan and avoid tax penalties for not having insurance in 2014.  

Steve Wood, community health coordinator of the ACR Health Syracuse office, said they are continuing outreach in nine counties in central New York, encouraging people to get help from specially trained navigators who can help with the process.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Today is the deadline for individuals to sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act in order to get coverage by Jan. 1. So far, New York state’s experience with this groundbreaking change in the way Americans get health care coverage has been generally positive.

Todd Muscatello is a Vice President for Sales at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Syracuse. As someone who deals in the vagaries of health insurance every day, he says he's glad he lives in New York state.  

As the deadline for health insurance plan applications approaches, one agency that’s offering individuals help with the process is finding itself very busy. ACR Health in Syracuse has exceeded expectations as far as signing people up in the state healthcare exchanges.

According to navigator Brian Vanbenschoten, ACR has already helped more than 1,100 people sign up for health insurance plans that will go into effect Jan. 1. That’s 300 more than the agency anticipated at this time.

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