By James T. Mulder |

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – New York health insurers are expected to ask this week for double-digit premium rate increases for 2018, according a trade group that represents insurers.

Today is the deadline for health plans to file rate requests with the State Department of Financial Services. Details about each insurer’s request won’t be available until late this week or early next week, according to a DFS official.

The New York Health Plan Association, which represents insurers, predicted today insurers will seek double-digit rate hikes because of continued increases in health care costs and uncertainty related to federal discussions surrounding repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Trump administration has threatened to withhold funding for federal subsidies used to make premiums more affordable for people who buy health insurance through the state health insurance exchange.

Last year New York health plans requested an average increase of 19.3 percent which the state reduced to 16.6 percent. It was the third consecutive year the state cut rate hike insurers’ requests. Those cuts, coupled with rising prescription drug costs and other health costs, are causing some plans to lose money, according to the association.

“There’s only so much room to be squeezed,” said Leslie Moran, the association’s senior vice president.

Not all insurers are losing money. Rochester-based Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield, for example, made a $99.5 million profit in 2016.

Some insurers have already announced plans to drop out of other state Obamacare health insurance exchanges.

Moran said her group does not know yet if any plans will drop out of the New York exchange. That won’t be known until the state announces its decision on insurers’ rate requests in early August.

That’s when health insurers have the option of dropping out.