New York Health Insurance: 'Consumers Are Outraged'

April 07, 2004
Allen G. Fore

CHICAGO, April 7, 2004: One month after community rating and guaranteed issue mandates went into effect in New York, nearly 10 percent of the state's insured population experienced premium increases ranging from 20 to 59 percent. Rates for a 30-year-old single male increased by 170 percent. By July 2003, individual and family policy rates were higher still, according to an article appearing in an upcoming issue of a national health care publication.

The author also states that "more than 20 commercial indemnity companies, including Mutual of Omaha, either left New York entirely or stopped writing health insurance policies between 1993 and 2000. Competition in the industry became almost non-existent, leading to continued double-digit premium inflation among the few carriers that remained."

The article appears in the April issue of Health Care News, a monthly publication produced by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit organization. The publication goes to approximately 15,000 readers, including every state and national elected official in the U.S. and the heads of civic and business organizations in all 50 states.

The author of the story, Health Care News Managing Editor Conrad F. Meier, cites data that rank New York the "second most expensive state in the country (behind Massachusetts) for family insurance offered in the small group market." (See chart below.)

Average Annual Insurance Premiums

Family Coverage through Small Groups
Highest Average Annual Premiums Lowest Average Annual Premiums
Massachusetts $8,468.86 South Carolina $6,083.00
New York $8,427.50 Kansas $6,041.64
New Hampshire $8,290.90 Virginia $6,009.21
New Jersey $8,274.53 Iowa $5,989.04
Connecticut $7,597.89 California $5,945.61
Maryland $7,268.98 Mississippi $5,901.51
Florida $7,206.48 Kentucky $5,894.18
Wisconsin $7,134.04 Missouri $5,790.45
Pennsylvania $7,123.71 North Dakota $5,713.15
Texas $7,047.92 South Dakota $5,678.65
Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2000. http://www.meps.ahrq.gov

If New York is going to undo the disastrous missteps that have damaged the health insurance industry, "mandated insurance benefits, which needlessly raise the price of insurance, should be rolled back," Meier concludes. "The legislature should also consider, as other states have done and President Bush has proposed, giving individuals who buy insurance the same tax breaks as those whose employers provide insurance."


EDITOR: The following New York community leaders were sent copies of the article in advance of publication and have expressed willingness to comment:

1. Assemblyman Brian Kolb

State of New York

607 W. Washington Street #2

Geneva, NY 14456-2119

518-455-5772

2. Deroy Murdock

President, Loud & Clear Communications

127 Fourth Ave. 5th Floor

New York, NY 10003

212-995-1538

3. James Barrett

President, J.P. Barrett and Associates

4739 40th Street

Sunnyside, NY 11104

718-729-0117

4. Patti Goldfarb

Past President, NY Chapter, National Assoc. of Health Underwriters

301 Madison Ave.

New York, NY 10017

212-490-8777

5. Alex Miller

President, Millenium Medical Solutions, Inc.

1 Executive Blvd. #104

Suffern, NY 10901

845-368-3030

6. Walter Olson

Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

875 King Street

Chappaqua, NY 10514

914-747-0447