The most expensive cost per month to most working New Yorkers isn’t their home or even their groceries — it’s ever-escalating health care premiums.
A recent WalletHub study ranked New York 46th in the country for cost of health care, though the state ranked ninth in access to care and 25th in patient outcomes. While the national debate over health care has been boisterous and partisan, it would seem everyone can agree that as much as possible should be done to lower health care costs for everyone. Spending less on health care would mean more money pumped into local economies.
New York could help consumers by removing the taxes, surcharges and assessments the state imposes on employers and those who purchase health insurance. Unshackle Upstate, in its 2018 legislative priorities, mentions the taxes that are “hidden” in health insurance premiums. Notably, in 2016, the “covered lives” assessment ($1.1 billion), the premium tax on commercial health insurance ($353 million), the New York State Department of Financial Services section 206 assessments ($149 million) and the HCRA surcharge ($3.1 billion) combine to cost consumers $4.7 billion. The taxes can add as much as 10 percent to the premium costs paid by an employer and passed on to employees.
There is no question that the federal government — both Republicans and Democrats — is part of this problem. But New York’s elected officials do have a role to play in lessening the cost of health care for New York residents. They should do so.
This editorial was published in The (Dunkirk) Evening Observer on Jan. 2.