New York's 53% drop in exchange premiums confirms analysts' belief that competition is increasing

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the state has approved 17 insurers to sell plans with premiums dropping by as much as 53 percent on its health insurance exchange.

The 17 insurers, including Aetna, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Excellus, Freelancers Co-Op, MVP Health Plan and UnitedHealth, submitted rates that drop premium costs by an average of 53 percent, even for the highest tier plans, the New York Department of Financial Services announced.

"New York's health benefits exchange will offer the type of real competition that helps drive down health insurance costs for consumers and businesses," Cuomo said in the statement.

Federal officials likened the premium drop to exchange rates in California and Oregon, two states that already have seen significantly lower premiums proposed for exchange plans. "We're seeing in New York what we've seen in other states like California and Oregon--that competition and transparency in the marketplaces are leading to affordable and new choices for families," Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told Bloomberg.

The New York announcement also led industry analysts to affirm their belief that the online marketplaces will indeed boost competition among insurers. Timothy Jost, a law professor with Washington and Lee University, told the New York Times that exchanges seem to be creating competitive markets, especially in states like New York that are embracing health reform.

The exchanges are a "very different dynamic for these companies, and it's prodding them to be more aggressive and competitive in their pricing," Sabrina Corlette, a professor at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reform, told the Times.

To learn more:
- here's the New York DFS statement
- read the Bloomberg article
- see the New York Times article