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Health

Consumer advocates call NY state insurance rate review process strong

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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.

Matt Anderson, spokesman for the New York State Department of Financial Services, says several factors go into the final increased health insurance companies are allowed, including consumer comment. And he says the factor that weighs heaviest is the cost billed by providers.

"Even though we’ve cut down health care costs pretty significantly after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there is still a lot of work to do, particularly on the provider side since a lot of times the insurers are simply passing on the costs they are billed by providers," Anderson said.

Consumer advocates consider New York’s prior approval process more transparent than in states where insurers file without an open review.

"We have a pretty protective regime in place to protect consumers which is not something that’s in place for every state," said Anderson.

In New York, companies must include their reasoning for increasing consumer cost of coverage. Meanwhile, in some states companies claim their pricing processes are trade secrets.

By law, final approved insurance rates must be available by the end of October. Last year, New Yorkers’ rates were released in September.