Talking to moms about health insurance

Rocking out in the rain at Mamapalooza

Today’s post comes from guest blogger Lois Uttley, of Raising Women’s Voices

Do you know somebody who needs health insurance?”

That was the conversation starter at the Health Care for All New York booth Sunday at the annual Mamapalooza festival in South Riverside Park, along Manhattan’s Hudson River waterfront.  “Yes, me!” was often the answer from the Moms (and Dads) stopping by the booth.

Raising Women’s Voices-New York staffers Lois Uttley and Aliza Lederer-Plaskett and intern Nina Nnamani teamed up with Lorraine Gonzalez of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York to staff the HCFANY booth. While the rainy weather dampened attendance, many of those present expressed surprise and excitement when HCFANY representatives explained the new health insurance options becoming available this October through the New York State Health Benefits Exchange.

“I’m a small business owner, and I just can’t afford health insurance for me and my employees,” explained one woman who wandered over from one of the booths offering products appealing to Moms and families. She was thrilled to hear about the new, more affordable health coverage that will be available to small employers when the state Exchange opens for enrollment on October 1.

HCFANY member organizations, including Raising Women’s Voices-NY, will be out and about at various community festivals this spring and summer, working to raise awareness about the new health coverage that will be available for individuals, families and small employers. Would you like Raising Women’s Voices or another HCFANY member organization to come to your event? If so, contact


March 28, 2013 HCFANY NYC Briefing

Panel (from left): Joanne Bailey, NYC Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access (OCHIA), Sara Rothstein, NYS Health Benefit Exchange, Martine Apodaca, Enroll America, Lois Uttley, Raising Women’s Voices, Dr. Jaime Torres, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Thanks to everyone who came to last week’s HCFANY briefing in NYC –  was a great success and we ended up with a turnout of over 130 people.

Many attendees have been asking for copies of the presentations and materials we had available at the meeting, so we are posting them up here for anyone who is interested.  Here is a quick recap:

  • Sara Rothstein, Assistant Director for Policy and Planning for the New York Health Benefit Exchange presented an update on implementation of the NYS Health Benefit Exchange including a very broad overview of the State’s outreach and marketing plan, information on the Navigator RFA.   You can view Sara’s presentation by clicking here.
  •  Martine Apodaca, Director of the Public Education Campaign for Enroll America presented a profile of the uninsured in New York and their findings on messaging around the new health insurance options based on a national survey.  You can view Martine’s presentation by clicking here.

  • Joanne Bailey, Director of Policy and Research at the New York City Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access (OCHIA) presented on the timeline for health reform implementation in the New York, including a profile of the uninsured in New York City, and the potential challenges and opportunities brought by the ACA.  You can view Joanne’s presentation by clicking here.

In addition, we had several publications and handouts available:



Happy Birthday!

Tomorrow marks the 3-year anniversary of the ACA and  – wow – what a journey it has been!

Despite its youth, the ACA has already succeeded in helping millions of Americans get access to affordable care.  For example, children with pre-existing health problems can no longer be turned down for coverage. Small businesses have access to tax credits to help pay for health insurance for their employees: 4 in 5 New York small businesses are eligible.  Preventive care is now available without co-pays, seniors who hit the Medicare “donut hole” are paying less for prescription drugs, and health insurers now have strict guidelines on how much of your monthly premium must be used on medical care rather than their own administrative costs.

A few numbers give a picture of just how much the ACA has helped people in our state:

  • New Yorkers with Medicare have saved over $407.6 million on prescription drugs since the law’s enactment.  In 2012 alone, 226,569 individuals in New York saved over $170.4 million, or an average of $752 per beneficiary.
  • 4.4 million New Yorkers gained access to free preventive health services in 2011 and 2012.  1.5 million seniors with Medicare received free preventive health care in 2012 alone.
  • This year, 1 million New Yorkers with private insurance coverage will get $86,526,642 in rebates from insurance companies who have overcharged them, with an average rebate of $138 per family.

And the best is yet to come:  In 2014, annual limits on insurance coverage will be banned, adults with  pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage,  and tax credits will be available to help individuals and families pay for health insurance.  And, individuals and small businesses will be able to get health insurance, including public programs like Medicaid, through the New York Health Benefit Exchange.  This will save New Yorkers who buy insurance on their own an average of over 60% and people who get it through their small business over 20%. Enrollment will begin October of this year!

Because of the ACA, affordable, quality health care will soon be woven into the fabric of American society, making us stronger and healthier as a nation.  And that’s something we can ALL look forward to!

So, Happy Third Birthday, ACA!  May you live a long, happy (and healthy) life!


Yes folks, it's the Hoover Dam!

A press release issued by Governor Cuomo’s office yesterday announced that New Yorkers will save over $500 million on health insurance premiums this year thanks to the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) utilization of the State’s prior approval law.  As you may remember, New York’s 2010 prior approval law allows DFS officials to review insurance rate increases before they go into effect and scale them back if they are too high.

Health insurers had requested overall increases averaging around 12.4%, which were then cut down to an average of 7.5% by DFS.  Rate increases for small group plans will increase an average of 9.5%, down from the average 15.7% increase requested by the insurance plans.  Prior to passage of the prior approval law, annual premium rate increases averaged 14%.

These modest increases stand out at a time when many states are experiencing double-digit increases in premiums.  For example, an article in Saturday’s New York Times notes that states like Florida and Ohio have seen rates rise by as much as 20%, with similar rate increases proposed in California.

The Affordable Care Act requires states to review any proposed rate increases above 10%, however New York is one of 37 states which allows state officials to deny excessive rate increases (an issue that is explored further in the Times article).

So, thanks again to our Senate Democrats who really championed this issue back in 2010 and made savings like this possible today.  We appreciate the work you do!!!

See below for a breakdown of the average requested rate increase and what the DFS ended up actually approving.  For the full list of increases by insurance plans, see the Governor’s press release.


Health Insurance Market Segment
Total Number
of Members Affected
Requested Annual Rate Increase (Weighted Average)
Approved Annual Rate Increase (Weighted Average)
Reduction by DFS
Individual, direct-pay
Small Group
Large Group
Medicare Supplement

Click here to read the Governor’s press release.

Click here to read the NYTimes article, titled “Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits.”