The Department of Financial Services (DFS) has approved health insurance plan rates for 17 insurers — eight of which are new entrants that do not currently offer commercial health insurance plans — seeking to offer coverage through New York’s Health Benefits Exchange. 

• Aetna

• Affinity Health Plan Inc. (new entrant)

• American Progressive Life & Health Insurance Company of New York (new entrant)

• Capital District Physicians Health Plan Inc.

• Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York

• Empire BlueCross BlueShield

• Excellus

• Fidelis Care (new entrant)

• Freelancers Co-Op (new entrant)

• Healthfirst New York (new entrant)

• HealthNow New York Inc.

• Independent Health

• MetroPlus Health Plan (new entrant)

• MVP Health Plan Inc.

• North Shore LIJ (new entrant)

• Oscar Health Insurance Co. (new entrant)

• United Healthcare

Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order establishing the New York Health Benefit Exchange, which is expected to provide more than one million uninsured New Yorkers with access to quality, affordable health care. “New York’s health benefits exchange will offer the type of real competition that helps drive down health insurance costs for consumers and businesses,” Cuomo said. “The opportunity to choose among affordable, quality health insurance options will mean improved health outcomes, stronger economic security, and better peace of mind for New York families.”

Consumers and businesses will be able to choose among plans in four metal tiers (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) on the exchange. Previously, New York insurers offered more than 15,000 plans that widely varied in terms of level and quality of coverage provided, which encouraged “competition through confusion” and made it difficult for purchasers to effectively compare plans side by side, Cuomo said.

“In setting these rates, we worked hard to do right by consumers and small businesses so they have access to affordable, quality health insurance,” said Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services. “Moreover, where New York previously had a dizzying array of thousands upon thousands of plans, small businesses will now be able to truly comparison shop for the best prices. New York will continue to move ahead rapidly so the exchange is up and running for 2014.”

On average, the approved 2014 rates for even the highest tier of plans individual New York consumers could purchase on the exchange (gold and platinum) represent a 53-percent reduction compared to last year’s direct-pay individual rates, according to Cuomo. Individuals with incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for individuals and $94,200 for a family of four), could qualify for financial assistance that lowers cost of coverage. Enrollment for the exchange begins on Oct. 1, 2013, for coverage that will be effective Jan. 1, 2014.

“The approval of health plan rates marks a significant milestone for the New York Health Benefit Exchange,” said New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. “The state continues to be on target to begin enrolling consumers and small business owners and their employees in health insurance coverage on Oct. 1, 2013. Access to affordable, quality health care will mean better health, peace of mind and financial security for New Yorkers.”

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