NY Approves Health Exchange Rates

ALBANY (AP) -

Officials have approved health insurance rates for 17 insurers planning to offer coverage next year through New York’s new Health Benefit Exchange, part of the federal overhaul expected to bring coverage to 1.1 million uninsured statewide.

Under the federal mandate intended to expand coverage nationally, NewYorkers getting insurance through the exchange and who meet certain income thresholds can tap into an estimated $2.6 billion in federal tax credits and subsidies annually.

The state said Wednesday that it was difficult to compare the new rates to the complex array of 15,000 older plans that varied widely in coverages. One advantage of the exchange to businesses is having the state take on some of the administrative burden.

The monthly premium rates for individual plans range from an average of $170 for the least expensive coverage for single adults against catastrophic illness to $965 for the most expensive “platinum” coverage.

For small group standard plans, rates for single adults range from $275 monthly for less comprehensive “bronze” level coverage to $775 for platinum.

The exchange is open to small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, which don’t have to provide coverage but may be eligible for tax credits up to 50 percent of their premium costs the first two years, state health officials said. Businesses with more than 50 employees will have to provide coverage to those working at least 30 hours a week.