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More NY Health Insurers to Open Their Books

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Five more health insurers doing business in New York have joined United Healthcare in agreeing to full transparency of rate increase filings.

This means that insurers representing 85 percent of the New York statement market have agreed that full details of rate increase requests should be available to public.

They serve 2.4 million New York residents, according to Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the New York state Department of Financial Services.

At the same time, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation disclosed that two insurers, with a total of 2,615 policies in force, have decided to withdraw from the Florida market. They represent a total of $12.7 million in annual premiums, the Florida OIR said.

The two companies are subsidiaries of American Enterprise Group, Inc. They are American Republic Insurance Company and World Insurance Company.

The Florida OIR said the reason cited was the mandate that administration expenses in healthcare premiums be limited to 20% for small group policies and 15 percent for large group policies.

The Florida OIR statement did not comment on the fact that the state has an application with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a waiver of the MLR mandate for Florida.

Aetna, EmblemHealth, Empire HealthChoice, Excellus and HealthNow formally withdrew their objections and agreed with the DFS that their rate filings should be made public, Lawsky said.

Emblem does business under the names GHI and HIP. Empire does business as Empire BlueCross BlueShield. HealthNow does business as BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and BlueShield of Northeastern New York.

The six companies were among 10 insures who filed legal objections to Lawsky’s decision to make the rate increase filings public.

The insurers that still have objected to the superintendent’s decision are Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Independent Health, and MVP Health Care, Lawsky said.

Lawsky ordered the filings be made public based on a 2010 law that requires New York insurers to seek the prior approval of the DFS for certain health insurance rate increases.

Lawsky said that because of the law, the DDFS has already cut rate requests for 2012 from 12.7 percent to 8.2 percent, saving consumers more than $400 million

The 2010 prior approval law, which went into effect in 2011, was passed in response to the continuing rapid rise of health insurance premiums and in the hope that transparency and review would help slow that rise, Lawsky said.

To that end, the law mandates public comment. “The Cuomo Administration’s position with respect to rate increase transparency is based on the need for the public’s comments on rate increases to be relevant and meaningful and thus informed by the detailed information in the rate increase filings,” Lawsky said.


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