The New York State of Health Third Open Enrollment Period Starts Next Week

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The time to enroll or renew your coverage on the NY State of Health (NYSOH) Marketplace is just a few days away! Nearly 2.6 million people have enrolled in the Marketplace since its launch in 2013. We can continue to make progress by making sure more New Yorkers get enrolled and those who are covered maintain their coverage.

How it works and what you can do:

  • Visit the Marketplace and look at available options – even if you are satisfied with your current coverage. The Marketplace continues to change, and this year you may find a plan that better suits your needs.
  • See if you qualify for the new Essential plan for low- and moderate- income New Yorkers. You could get comprehensive coverage for yourself and your family for $0 or $20 per person per month!
  • There are options to make the process of enrollment or renewal easier. You may go online and search through the Marketplace, call the Community Health Advocates helpline at 1-888-614-5400, or visit an in-person assistor in your community.

A few important dates for new enrollees:

  • The Third Open Enrollment Period begins on November 1, 2015, and continues through January 31, 2016.
  • To get coverage that begins January 1, 2015 you must enroll by December 15, 2015.
  • For coverage starting February 1, 2016 you must enroll between December 16, 2015 and January 15, 2016.
  • For coverage starting March 1, 2016 you must enroll between January 16, 2016 and January 31, 2016.

For returning consumers, the re-certification period begins on November 15, 2015:

  • To make sure you do not have a gap in coverage, you must renew your coverage between November 15, 2015 and December 15, 2015 for coverage that begins on January 1, 2016.

If you miss the re-certification deadline, your coverage stop after December 31, 2015 and you will not be insured for a certain time period:

  • For coverage that begins on February 1, 2016 you must renew your coverage between December 16, 2015 and January 15, 2015 (coverage gap is 1 month).
  • If you renew your coverage between January 15, 2016 and January 31, 2016, your coverage will begin on March 1, 2016 (coverage gap is 2 months).

Make sure to get coverage to stay healthy and avoid the increasing tax penalty. Remember, the penalty for not being covered is rising to the greater of $695 per person ($347.50 per child under 18) or 2.5% of your family yearly taxable income in 2016!

A report released this week by Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 58% of uninsured New Yorkers are eligible for free or subsidized health coverage. The majority of them – 548,000 people – are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid. There are several reasons why people who are eligible for Medicaid have not enrolled: some do not know they’re now eligible under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, some avoid Medicaid because of the stigma of poverty attached to the program, and some have had their income drop since they last applied for coverage.

The 317,000 New Yorkers who are uninsured but would qualify for financial assistance (such as Cost Sharing Reductions and Advance Premium Tax Credits) on the Marketplace includes consumers who are newly-eligible for the Essential Plan, New York’s forthcoming Basic Health Program. Consumers enrolled in the Essential Plan will have monthly premiums of $0 or $20 a month, no deductible, and very low copays; this combination should assuage the fears of people who believe health coverage is too expensive. The New York State of Health hopes to draw consumers back during the third Open Enrollment period, which begins on November 1, by highlighting these new levels of affordability. They’ll be targeting these 317,000 New Yorkers with videos, social media campaigns, and catchy new graphics (stay tuned for more!).

Nearly a third of uninsured New Yorkers – 457,000 people – are unauthorized immigrants. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent announcement on connecting immigrants to care through a “Direct Access” program was a crucial first step for those immigrants living in the City, and Health Care for All New York will continue to advocate for comprehensive health insurance coverage for our undocumented neighbors. New York State has done a fabulous job in the first two Open Enrollment periods in connecting people to coverage, and the rollout of the Essential Plan will be another step in the right direction. A critical next step for closing the coverage gap in New York will be expanding affordable coverage to New Yorkers who are excluded from coverage options because of immigration status.

Guest post: Lois Uttley, Director, Raising Women’s Voices – NY


The NYS Department of Financial Services issued a Circular Letter in December 2014 requiring private health insurance plans in our state to cover all medically-necessary care for treatment of gender dysphoria. With the one-year anniversary of this policy approaching, the LGBT Task Force of Health Care for All New York (HCFANY) is determining whether private health insurance plans are complying with this policy.

LGBT healthThe LGBT Task Force is inviting transgender individuals, as well as their clinicians and advocates, to share their experiences with us and with state officials at “listening sessions” to be held this fall in three locations: New York City, Albany and Rochester. The goal of these sessions is to identify systemic problems with insurer compliance with the transgender coverage policy, so that we can work with state officials and insurers to address the problems. The sessions will be invitation-only and will not be open to the public or media for confidentiality purposes. We are taking special steps to ensure the comfort of transgender individuals who are willing to testify.

The listening sessions are planned to highlight the wide range of challenges transgender individuals experience when trying to use their private health coverage to obtain needed care. For example, such problems might include difficultly obtaining pre-certification approval, denials of coverage for surgical procedures and lengthy appeal processes.

If you have a recent story about how you, your client or your patient has had difficulty obtaining approvals for private health insurance coverage of transgender care, please fill out the form at, and a Task Force member will get in touch shortly.  Please note that these experiences must have taken place since December 2014, when the new policy was issued, and must concern private insurance coverage, not Medicaid coverage (which we will analyze in a later stage of this process). Please direct all Medicaid stories to the email, and Task Force members will reach out to you in the next phase of this project.

The majority of non-elderly Americans get their health coverage through employer sponsored plans, but the ways those plans provide financial protection is changing. According to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, employers are increasingly relying on cost-shifting through high-deductible plans, higher premiums, and plans with larger co-pays. That means workers and their families have more to lose when healthcare costs spike.


Tools such as price transparency calculators and employee wellness programs are growing in popularity as consumers are pushed to treat healthcare purchasing decisions more like other household expenses. It may pay to shop around and avoid unnecessary office visits or procedures, but healthcare costs are not like other household purchases. Price tags don’t always communicate value, and high quality care is not one-size-fits-all. For some consumers paying more to get the care that suits their needs is the only viable option. The rise of narrow networks, which offer few choices of providers and hospitals in an effort to curb costs to insurers, exacerbates the problems these consumers face.


With wages increasing slowly, consumer advocates are on the alert for healthcare costs that prevent workers from seeking necessary, high-quality care. Nobody should forgo a trip to the doctor when they’re ill because they can’t meet their deductible or afford the copay. The American narrative of employer sponsor health insurance only works if employees aren’t impoverished the moment they need services.