NY State of Health extends enrollment deadline for January 1 coverage!

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New Yorkers have five more days to enroll in January 1 coverage! On Friday, the NY State of Health extended the Dec 15 enrollment deadline to December 20 for coverage that begins January 1.

Remember that this deadline only applies to coverage that begins January 1. New Yorkers can still enroll in NY State of Health coverage beginning in February or March up until February 15, 2015 – by January 15 for coverage starting February 1, and by February 15 for coverage starting March 1. New Yorkers can enroll online, by phone, and get in-person help to enroll from an enrollment assistor.

It’s looking like another good year for affordable, quality health insurance thanks to the ACA. Nearly 155,000 New Yorkers have newly enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace since the start of open enrollment on November 15 . That’s in addition to the many who are renewing last year’s coverage. You can find stories from New Yorkers who enrolled last year in our recently released story booklet: The ACA is Working: New Yorkers Tell Their Stories.

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“The Affordable Care Act gave me a chance and ended my six year nightmare of living without health insurance. It was way more simple and affordable than people think.”

-Karen E., Ulster County

The Affordable Care Act is working in New York, according to HCFANY’s new publication, The ACA is Working: New Yorkers Tell Their Stories.

The new publication shares stories from New Yorkers like Karen, a single mother from Ulster County, who was finally able to get affordable health coverage for her family after being uninsured for six years, thanks to federal subsidies. Ben, from Broome county got covered thanks to the ACA’s Medicaid Expansion and enrolled in the same plan as his son. And Engracia got help from a local Navigator to enroll in a plan that saves her $4,500 a year.

The ACA is Working: New Yorkers Tell Their Stories features twelve consumer stories and quotes from New Yorkers in all regions of the State who enrolled in private Qualified Health Plans, Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and small business plans, all through the NY State of Health Marketplace during the first Open Enrollment period. Many got help to enroll from Navigators, who offer free, unbiased, in-person enrollment help. The stories are paired with key statistics and facts about how the ACA is working for New York – and most importantly, New Yorkers.

View HCFANY’s full press release here.

girls_doctor_officeThe Alliance for Health Reform and Kaiser Family Foundation held a briefing on Monday about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides quality health coverage for over 8 million kids – including nearly 500,000 in New York under Child Health Plus.

The Program was extended in the ACA through 2019, but unfortunately funding for the program expires next September without congressional action. This would be bad news for kids – many could lose coverage (some due to the “family glitch“) or pay more for comprehensive coverage. Not to mention it would cut short a program that has been enormously successful in reducing the child uninsurance rate, which fell by half since the program began in 1997.

A summary of the briefing and all materials are available on the Alliance for Health Reform website, including background materials, videos, and speaker presentations. Speakers included Joan Alker, executive director at Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, Robin Rudowitz, associate director for Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, Robert Stewart, analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, and Cathy Caldwell, director of the Bureau of Children’s Health Insurance in the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Check it out!



kid examining monkey This week, National Academy for State Health Policy and Georgetown University’s Center for Children & Families released a joint report analyzing Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage in 42 separate programs in 38 states. For the past 17 years, CHIP has given states federal funds to operate public health insurance programs designed for children. New York’s own version of the program, Child Health Plus, has been running even longer – 2014 marks it’s 24th year!

Why the focus on CHIP coverage now? The ACA extends CHIP funding through 2015, but after that point the future is somewhat uncertain. By April 15, 2015, the Secretary of HHS will have to determine if coverage offered under the new Qualified Health Plans is “at least comparable” to the benefits and cost-sharing in CHIP. States will soon after have the option to cover children through comparable QHPs. It’s important that advocates and consumers alike know and voice the benefits of CHIP, which has been responsible for millions of children gaining coverage since it’s inception. More children are gaining coverage through the program all the time – recent enrollment numbers show over 80,000 children enrolled in New York’s Child Health Plus program between October 1 and April 15, nearly 70,000 of whom are newly uninsured.

There are federal rules for certain aspects of CHIP coverage and costs – for example, the cost paid by families can’t be more than 5% of their income. Within these requirements States still have a fair amount of flexibility to choose benefits and cost-sharing for enrollees. The report finds that CHIP programs generally offer comprehensive coverage with low cost-sharing. About 1/3 of the programs provide benefits very like the Medicaid packages in their state, which are known for being very comprehensive. Plans generally cover basic physical, hospital, and laboratory services without limitations; all plans cover dental, vision, and hearing services, though with varying limitations. Most programs charge some sort of premium, but about 1/3 of the programs have no cost-sharing.

New York’s Child Health Plus, is one of the most generous in the country, offering subsidized coverage for any child up to 19 from families up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Premiums range from $9 per child for those just above the Medicaid level, to $180 for those at the 400% of FPL who live in high cost regions of the state. New York is also one of the states with no cost-sharing beyond premiums, making Child Health Plus a particularly affordable option. And, coverage is open to any child, regardless of immigration status. Children in families with incomes above 400% FPL can still buy into the program at full price.

Child Health Plus covers most services without limitations, including physician, hospital, and lab services, prescription drugs, pre-natal care vision and dental services. Uncovered services include nursing care, case management, and care coordination, as well as non-Emergency Transport. And, a few services, like orthodontics and outpatient mental health services, are covered with limitations.

For more on coverage and costs, including a handy table for Child Health Plus on page 91, visit the full report.

Want to learn more about children’s health coverage in New York? Join HCFANY for our Children, Youth and Families Task Force Meeting on May 28 in Albany. More details here.