State approves health insurance premium rate hikes

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — Many people will soon be dealing with big increases in their health insurance premiums.

The state approved rate hikes this week and in some cases people could see double digit increases.

University at Buffalo School of Management associate professor Charles Lindsey said these increases impact more than just healthcare.

“The National Bureau of Economic Research reported they’ve studied this and for every 10% increase in insurance premiums they find a 1.6% increase in the likelihood of someone being unemployed,” Lindsey said.

He said it also affects hours worked and that 2/3 of the increase comes out of an employee’s salary and 1/3 comes out of benefits.

Policy holders in Western New York are looking at a 12% increase for Highmark and more than 6% for Independent Health.

Lev Ginsburg from The Business Council said this is a result of inflation and even the pandemic.

“There are in some cases double digit increases in various insurances in the health markets. These are actually not as large an increase as was requested in some cases,” Ginsburg said.

The business council is working to try to prevent more drastic increases in premiums in the future.

Ginsburg said an upcoming bill could increase premiums again by another 40% if passed. It’s already passed both houses of the legislature.

The council is urging the governor to veto it.

Lindsey’s advice to people is to make sure you’re accounting for this increase.

“It’s important to really have a budget. Really think deeply about your spending in any given month.”

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.