NYSOH Announces that Open Enrollment Will Run Through January 31, 2018

open enrollment graphicYesterday, the NY State of Health, New York State’s official health plan Marketplace announced in a press release that Open Enrollment for the 2018 plan year would begin on November 1, 2017 and last for a full three months, ending on January 31, 2018. As you may have heard in the spring, the federal government slashed Open Enrollment to just six weeks. This move is much better for consumers who are often overwhelmed during the busy holiday season. With this action, New York joins others progressive states like California, Washington, and Minnesota in extending the 2018 enrollment period.

If you or someone you know needs help selecting and enrolling in a health insurance plan, Navigators are available to assist. Please call (888) 614.5400 for in-person assistance in your area. Don’t forget, consumers enrolling in Medicaid, the Essential Plan, and Child Health Plus can enroll year-round!

Never Fear! Navigators ARE Here!

Never Fear! Navigators ARE Here!

Many of you may have heard reports that the Trump Administration will be cutting federal funding for the Navigator program for the upcoming year. Navigators are individuals or organizations specially trained and certified to help consumers shop for and enroll in health insurance coverage through the Marketplace.

These cuts do not affect New York. New York State runs its own state-based Marketplace, the New York State of Health (NYSOH), and thanks to the continued support of the State government, New York also funds its own Navigator program and will not be affected by federal cuts.

Navigators and other in-person assistors are available to help consumers in every county in New York State. According to the 2017 NYSOH Open Enrollment Report, there were 526 Navigators and more than 5,000 Certified Application Counselors (CAC) and Facilitated Enrollers (FE) in New York as of January 31, 2017. Among consumers who enrolled in coverage through NYSOH, 72 percent did so with the help of a Navigator, CAC, or FE. An even greater proportion of consumers used in-person assistance when enrolling in public coverage through the Marketplace. Seventy-seven percent of consumers who enrolled in Medicaid, 74 percent of consumers who enrolled in Child Health Plus, and 83 percent of consumers who enrolled in the Essential Plan all used in-person assistance to choose the best plan for their needs.

Open Enrollment for the 2018 plan year begins on November 1, 2017. If you or someone you know needs help selecting and enrolling in a health insurance plan, please call (888) 614.5400 for in-person assistance in your area. Remember, consumers enrolling in Medicaid, the Essential Plan, and Child Health Plus can enroll year-round!

The Congressional Budget Office's logo

The Congressional Budget Office’s logo

Earlier this week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on the effects of ending the Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs), which help make out of pocket costs more affordable for consumers with incomes between 100 and 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. In New York, the CSRs also provide funding for the Essential Plan, which covers more than 665,000 New Yorkers. If the CSRs were eliminated beginning in January 2018, the CBO estimates:

  • One million Americans would become uninsured in 2018.
  • Five percent of Americans would live in counties where there are no insurers are offering Marketplace plans.
  • Premiums for the second-lowest-cost silver plans (the plans consumers must purchase in order to be eligible for CSRs) would increase 20 percent in 2018 and increase by 25 percent by 2020.
  • The federal deficit would increase by $6 billion in 2018, $21 billion in 2020, and $26 billion in 2026; and
  • There would be a net increase of one million more people with coverage by 2020.

However, the CBO report relies on three important assumptions to arrive at these estimates: (1) the decision to end CSR payments would be made in time for insurers to adjust the premiums they will charge consumers in 2018; (2) the Administration will continue paying CSRs each month from now until January 2018; and (3) insurers will absorb the loss of CSR payments by raising only the cost of the second-lowest-cost silver plan. If any of these assumptions are not met, the outcomes for consumers could differ dramatically from the CBO projections. For more details, check out this analysis from Health Affairs.

Recent reports say that the Trump Administration will make CSR payments for the month of August, but this does not provide consumers or insurers, who must finalize their 2018 premiums by early September, certainty for the next plan year. Here in New York State, the Department of Financial Services adjusted health insurance rates for silver plans by an average of 0.6 percent to account for the potential loss of CSRs.

Yay BlogAccording to an analysis from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families and the American Academy of Pediatrics, a historic high of 98 percent of children in New York have health insurance. This is thanks in large part to New York’s progressive policies on Medicaid, Child Health Plus (CHP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Medicaid and CHP together cover more than 2.8 million children in New York State and account for 38 percent of the state’s total Medicaid and CHP enrollment. This includes 84 percent of children living in or near poverty, 47 percent of infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers, 39 percent of children with special health care needs, 51 percent of newborns, and 100 percent of children in foster care. An additional 11,000 children in New York have coverage through the New York State of Health Marketplace. Because of New York’s leadership in health care and health coverage, all children are eligible for health insurance regardless of immigration status.

Children enrolled in Medicaid and CHP do better in school, are more likely to graduate from high school, are more likely to attend college, grow up to be healthier adults, and earn higher wages. Continued investment in Medicaid and CHP and outreach to the remaining uninsured is needed to ensure that all of New York’s children and families have the opportunity to reach their full potential. This is especially important in the face of the current federal threats to these crucial sources of coverage.

You can view the full New York State fact sheet here.