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40k New Yorkers Sign Up For Obamacare

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Affordable healthcare is just a click away in New York, where officials are trumpeting the rollout of the state's health exchange as a success. 

Since the health exchange went live online October 1, more than 40-thousand New Yorkers completed the application process for health insurance: officials say the number surpasses the numbers reported by any other state.

Donna Frescatore is the Executive Director of the official health plan marketplace, New York State of Health.  “In just over one week, we have already signed up more than 40,000 New Yorkers into low cost health insurance. This fast pace of sign-ups shows that New York State’s exchange is working smoothly with an overwhelming response from New Yorkers eager to get access to low cost health insurance. We will continue to encourage our state’s residents to sign up for health insurance online, over the phone and at the hundreds of on-site centers we have across New York.” 

Brian O'Grady, Vice President of Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, says for more than three years, the health plan has worked to ensure compliance with all mandates of the federal Affordable Care Act. O'Grady believes curiosity crashed many health exchange websites in the first few days.

Donna Frescatore notes anyone currently insured through his or her employment does not need to sign up at the exchange. She adds that there are changes for New Yorkers enrolled in Family Health Plus, many of whom will become Medicaid eligible; those in Child Health Plus will continue as they did before the advent of the exchange.

The rates for the health plans on NYSOH represent a 53 percent reduction compared to the previous year’s individual rates. In addition to this cost-savings, it is estimated that nearly three-quarters of individual enrollees will qualify for financial assistance. New Yorkers can access available plans, estimated costs, and financial assistance for their county by using the Tax Credit and Premium Estimator at http://www.info.nystateofhealth/PremiumEstimator

Plans offered on NYSOH are available in four easy-to-compare metal tiers (platinum, gold, silver, and bronze) from 16 qualified insurers and 10 qualified dental insurers. New Yorkers can see plans available in their area at http://info.nystateofhealth.ny.gov/PlansMap

The Small Business Marketplace offers small businesses with 50 or fewer employees a range of flexible options to meet their needs. Small businesses can access expert advice and enroll on NYSOH either online at http://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/Employer, by calling toll-free at 1-855-355-5777, or by contacting an insurance broker or navigator.

Close to 500 in-person Assistors/Navigators have been trained and are providing high-quality enrollment assistance in all 62 counties of the state, and in a total of 48 languages. Individuals and families can get information and enroll in a plan either online at www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov, or by calling toll-free at 1-855-355-5777. For in-person assistance, community navigators can be found by county on the website.

New Yorkers have until March 31 to enroll, and the first round of coverage begins January 1.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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