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ACR Health says not to worry about health insurance increase letters

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.

The letters started arriving a few weeks ago, notifying recipients of health insurance that their provider was going to ask the state to raise rates 21 percent next year. ACR Community Health coordinator Steve Wood says this isn’t anything new; insurance companies have always asked the state to approve increases this time of year.

"This is a normal thing, it’s just making it more transparent because of the Affordable Care Act requiring that they let people know that they intend to bring this to the state, that they want to increase their rates by 21 percent,” Wood said. “Will they get that? Historically, no. Insurers have never gotten the amount of increase that they want.”

Wood reminds people to stay calm and not look too deeply into the increases.

“Don’t panic, because this is something that happens every year,” Wood explained. “Always has happened.  Because of the Affordable Care act, it’s forcing insurance companies to be more transparent about what they want to do, and inform you ahead of time that they’re seeking a rate increase.” 

Wood says rates may rise, but generally you don’t find out what the rate will be until the end of the year. He also says the health insurance landscape will look different this fall when open enrollment begins again in November, with different insurance companies involved and offering different plans.

“In the event that you were insured through the marketplace, come back and see us, and we’ll see if you can find another deal with another insurer,” Wood said. “Because it is competitive and it’ll become more competitive in 2015. And we’ll see what kind of rates you’ll be able to get or what kind of tax incentives you can get.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.