New York State
Insurance Department


ISSUED 10/30/2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MILLS ANNOUNCES NEW HIGH-DEDUCTIBLE HEALTHY NY PLAN
Lower cost, featuring more benefits are newest enhancements to affordable insurance plan

        Superintendent of Insurance Howard Mills today announced Healthy NY will soon offer increased benefits as well as new options that will make the program even more affordable to New Yorkers. Healthy NY is the state’s reduced cost health insurance program for the working uninsured, sole proprietors and small businesses.

        "Governor Pataki’s commitment to increasing the number of people with health insurance in New York State has been a hallmark of his tenure." Superintendent Mills stated. "The Insurance Department is proud that we have contributed to the Governor’s success through our Healthy NY initiative, and I’m very pleased that for 2007, Healthy NY will receive enhancements that will make it even more attractive and effective."

        Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, qualifying individuals, sole proprietors and small employers will be able to save substantially by purchasing a consumer-driven high deductible health plan through the Healthy NY program. This product is designed for use with a tax advantaged Health Savings Account.

        The Healthy NY program will also have additional benefits in 2007. Members who require home health care or physical therapy following a hospitalization or surgery may receive these services beginning in 2007. The program will also cover prostate cancer screening.

        Currently, Healthy NY enrollees may choose between two options – Healthy NY coverage with prescription drug coverage and without prescription drug coverage. Those two options will also be available to enrollees who choose the high deductible plan. Under the high deductible plan, insurance companies offering Healthy NY must provide the option to choose a deductible of $1,150 per individual and $2,300 per family, subject to the policy’s out-of-pocket maximums. Enrollees can then set up tax advantaged Health Savings Accounts for up to the amount of the deductible in order to cover that cost.

        The estimated premium savings under this plan would be 20% to 25% annually. That savings could be used to help fund a Health Savings Account (HSA). A HSA is a special account owned by an individual where contributions are used to pay current or future medical bills.

        HSAs have several benefits. Employer contributions to a HSA are not taxable to the employee, and if an individual pays for his or her own HSA, that amount is deductible by the individual on his or her tax return. For example, the U.S. Treasury says a single taxpayer making $20,000 who put $1,000 into a Health Savings Account in 2006 would reduce his or her federal income tax by $150.

        Unlike Flexible Spending Accounts, the Health Savings Account is not a "use it or lose it" account. Funds placed in the HSA remain there until spent. The money in the HSA can also grow. It is owned by the individual, and may be invested under the same rules as Individual Retirement Accounts.

        "The new high-deductible options can help both employers and individuals save money long term and short term, all while being covered by high quality health insurance," said Superintendent Mills. "These changes will help New York keep leading the nation in extending health insurance to everyone."

        The percentage of New Yorkers without health insurance dropped to 13.5 percent of the population in 2005 from 15.8 percent in 2002, according to United States Census Bureau data released in August 2006. Meanwhile, the same Census Bureau report found that the percentage of Americans without health insurance rose to 15.9 percent of all Americans in 2005 from 15.2 percent in 2002.

        Created as a result of the Health Care Reform Act of 2000, proposed by Gov. Pataki and enacted by the Legislature, the Healthy NY program is designed to assist small business owners in providing their employees and their employees’ families with the health insurance they need and deserve. In addition, uninsured sole proprietors and workers whose employers do not provide health insurance may also purchase comprehensive coverage directly through the Healthy NY program.

        More information on Healthy NY can be found at www.healthyny.com.


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