Health Insurance

A state agency has made its decision on rate hike requests from health insurance companies.

The New York State Department of Financial Services says that overall, rates in the individual market for 2021 will increase by only 1.8%, the lowest increase in that category since the agency regained the authority to approve the rates a decade ago.

DFS says the 4.2% average rate hike for small group plans is the second-lowest ever approved by the agency during that period.

WXXI photo

Health insurance companies regulated by the state are waiting to hear back about their requests for 2021 rate changes for premium holders. The companies, like nearly every other industry, face many uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their requests vary widely.

The companies are asking the New York State Department of Financial Services for an average increase of 11.5%.  

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

The Rochester area’s largest health insurance provider said this week that it will cover COVID-19 treatment at no cost to its subscribers.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield said in a statement that it will waive members’ costs for both diagnosis and treatment, “even if that treatment is delivered in the hospital.”

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

The percentage of people without health insurance in upstate New York has fallen to its lowest number in years, according to the area’s largest health insurance provider.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield CEO Chris Booth said the legal and business climate in upstate New York means health insurance locally is less expensive than in many parts of the United States.

Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, and MVP Health Care, two of the insurance companies serving a number of Rochester area customers are among the firms filing requests for rate increases for next year.

According to the NYS Department of Financial Services, Excellus has requested a 4.2% increase for the individual market and a 6.8% hike for the small group market.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

Enrollment has continued to grow for Rochester’s largest health insurer, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

In its latest filing with the New York state financial services department, Excellus reported that it added about 40,000 new members in 2018. The company now has more than 1.5 million subscribers.

More New Yorkers signed up for health insurance through the state’s marketplace for 2019 than for any previous year, according to numbers from the state Department of Health.

That marketplace, called New York State of Health, allows customers to see insurance plans that meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

More than 4.7 million New Yorkers enrolled between November and February for insurance coverage that spans 2019.

That’s an increase of almost half a million from last year’s enrollment period.

New York State Department of Health


More New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance through the state’s marketplace this year than last, with almost a month still to go in this year’s enrollment period.

More than a quarter-million New Yorkers have enrolled in a plan through the marketplace, which is called New York State of Health.


New York State Department of Health

This is a busy time of year for Margarita Gonzalez. She’s an insurance navigator at Trillium Health in Rochester, and with the enrollment period for New Yorkers to get health coverage through the state’s marketplace ending Saturday night, she’s been getting a lot of calls.

“I probably touched base with five clients this morning,” Gonzalez said just after noon on Friday, “and I’ll probably have at least five more today.”

New York State has cut many of the  health insurance increases proposed earlier this year by insurance companies.

Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo says that the Department of Financial services has reduced health insurers’ 2019 requested rates for the individual market overall by 64%. The rates for small group plans were cut by 50% overall.