Insurance carriers increase their rates once a year, usually on January 1. Over the past five years, premiums have increased an average of 11% annually, nationwide. We've done our best to keep the rates for our health plans as low as possible, which means that our average is less than that. Buying insurance on the individual market in New York State is rough, and we know it. If you're getting your health insurance through a Freelancers Union plan, you're able to purchase it at a group rate instead of at the (significantly higher) individual rate. ("Individual rate" and "individual market" simply refer to anyone buying insurance outside a group, even couples and families.) The plan that HIP offered to individuals in 2006 cost $475 a month. In a few cases, folks seemed confused or upset by our rate increases this year. We want you to know that we're doing our best to negotiate good deals with the insurance companies. And though we usually try to avoid the hard sell, with side-by-side price comparisons, we thought this might be an appropriate time to take a look at what similar plans cost on the individual market:
2006 Health Insurance Monthly Premiums for Individuals in New York State
New York is a guarantee-issue state. That means that if you're unhealthy, or you need a lot of medical care, insurance companies can't reject you--we think that's a good thing. But it also means that everyone who can't get insurance through a group or an employer ends up paying the same, very high rate. So, you have the problem of "adverse selection"--only people with high risk are willing to pay those premiums, which means that a lot of healthy people go without insurance. With fewer low-risk people paying into the pool, the costs just spiral upward.