A lot of people are worried about their coverage options right now, but the first thing to know is that it is still Open Enrollment for the Marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. Anyone who is uninsured or needs to renew should go ahead and get coverage set up for 2017.
If you are re-enrolling or are signing up for the first time and need coverage that starts on January 1, the deadline is December 15. The last day of Open Enrollment is January 31.
Both signing up and re-enrolling can be done through the NY State of Health Marketplace. The New York State of Health also funds Navigators all over the state who can help you apply, whether you are shopping for a small business, for your family, or just for yourself. The Navigators receive special training and are certified by the state. They know the plans inside and out and will help you understand your options. You can even make appointments to get help in-person.
You can look for a Navigator near you using the directory available here. The Community Service Society is one of the Navigator agencies and provides a helpline at 888-614-5400. Don’t be shy about calling – there are a lot of choices and it can be a big decision.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 20 million Americans have enrolled in health insurance, and the uninsured rate has sunk to the lowest level on record. In New York, our ACA marketplace, the New York State of Health, has enrolled more than 2.8 million New Yorkers into high quality affordable coverage. New York’s uninsurance rate was cut in half between 2013 and 2015.
The ACA provides free coverage or subsidized coverage to the vast majority of New Yorkers obtaining coverage on the NY State of Health marketplace. The new Essential Plan provides free or low-cost coverage to almost 600,000 New Yorkers. The ACA also makes insurance work better for consumers. The extensive list of consumer protections it offers includes: preventive care with no cost-sharing; an end to lifetime and annual limits; a prohibition on discrimination in health care; and no more denials or delays of coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
HCFANY knows that many consumers woke up this morning worrying about whether they will lose the coverage they count on because of threats to repeal the ACA.
HCFANY calls on our elected leaders to assuage their fears and act as soon as practicable to maintain the advances in coverage that New Yorkers have received since the ACA was enacted. New York has always been a leader on health coverage issues. We look to the leadership of New York State to continue to find ways to provide quality, affordable coverage for all New Yorkers.
Today, November 1, is the first day of open enrollment on the NY State of Health (NYSOH) Marketplace. New Yorkers can now enroll in coverage for the first time or renew their coverage by visiting NYSOH here. Since the first open enrollment period in 2013, more than 2.8 million New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance through the Marketplace. We can continue to make progress by making sure more New Yorkers get enrolled and that those who are covered maintain their coverage.
The New York Times even published a fun graphic to help consumers choose an appropriate Marketplace or employer-sponsored health insurance plan. There are also even more options to make this process easier with Navigators who can provide in-person enrollment assistance.
A few important dates for new enrollees:
- The Fourth Open Enrollment Period begins today November 1, 2016, and continues through January 31, 2017.
- To get coverage that begins January 1, 2017 you must enroll by December 15, 2016.
- For coverage starting February 1, 2017 you must enroll between December 16, 2016 and January 15, 2017.
- For coverage starting March 1, 2017 you must enroll between January 16, 2017 and January 31, 2017.
For returning consumers, the re-certification period begins on November 15, 2016:
- To make sure you do not have a gap in coverage, you must renew your coverage between November 15, 2016 and December 15, 2016 for coverage that begins on January 1, 2017.
- If you miss the re-certification deadline, you will be uninsured for a certain period of time.
Last month, we told you about the rate review process, which happens every year when health insurance companies submit requests for rate increase or decreases to the state Department of Financial Services (DFS). New York’s carriers were asking for some pretty big increases this year – about 18 percent on average across the individual and small group market. But as we explained, those are just requests. DFS has final say, and will release its decisions in the next few weeks.
The rate review process requires a tricky balancing act. Sometimes a rate increase is needed to make sure that the insurance company can stay in business. But consumers have to be able to afford coverage. In New York, consumers contribute to this process by telling DFS how premium costs affect their lives (you can look at all the comments people sent in on the DFS website).
HCFANY participates each year by reviewing all the applications and drafting formal comments. We will post the results as soon as they are released by DFS. But in the meantime, you can look through our letters, all of which are below.