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.
The NY State of Health’s (NYSOH) 2016 Open Enrollment Report shows that increased efforts to reach Limited English Proficient populations are making progress. This year, 20 percent of NYSOH enrollees indicated a language other than English as their preferred language compared to 18 percent in 2015. This increase is an important reflection of the diversity of our state.
To encourage outreach, NYSOH made consumer education materials available in 23 languages other than English, including five additional languages that were not available in 2015: Burmese, Karen, Somali, Swahili, and Tigrinya. NYSOH’s Customer Service Center also provided assistance to consumers in 93 languages other than English with an average of 20 percent of all calls to the Customer Service Center each month were answered in a language other than English compared to only 14 percent in 2015. Additionally, Navigators provided assistance in 37 languages other than English.
Gaps in information remain about New York’s diverse immigrant communities and their experiences enrolling in coverage through the NYSOH. Although this year’s Open Enrollment Report provides great information about enrollment for seven languages: Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean, Spanish, and Russian, the report does not provide insight into whether callers in additional languages were able to enroll after reaching the call center. The NYSOH Navigator program funds enrollment but not outreach activities. Last year, HCFANY urged the State to provide dedicated outreach funding to small community-based organizations that best know difficult to reach immigrant rural populations.