HCFANY leaders are heading to the State Capitol today to speak to legislative leaders about our 2016 Policy Agenda. Here are a few of HCFANY’s ideas for ways that New York can continue to build on our successes to increase access to affordable quality health care for all.
Comprehensive Coverage for All Immigrants: New York can offer Essential Plan (EP) coverage for the roughly 5,500 New Yorkers who are ineligible for federal EP funding because of their immigration status by allocating $10.3 million in state-only funding for next year. New York should also explore ways to cover all immigrants, including those who are undocumented.
Consumer Assistance: Community Health Advocates (CHA) helps New Yorkers understand, use and keep their insurance by providing a central, toll-free helpline and community and small business-serving agencies throughout the State. Last year, New York provided $3 million in funding for a 9-month period. This year, New York should provide $4 million to ensure a year-round CHA program.
Consumer Outreach: While New York has exceeded enrollment expectations, 8% of New Yorkers remain uninsured. New York should build on its success by providing $2 million in funding for outreach and education by community-based organizations (CBOs) and small business-serving groups to reach the remaining uninsured. You can read more about these ideas in HCFANY’s Legislative Agenda Policy Brief and HCFANY Health/Medicaid Testimony on the 2016-2017 NYS Executive Budget.
As we celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year, we now have more reason for merriment – Governor Cuomo has just signed legislation that gives pregnant women the right to enroll in Qualified Health Plans through the State’s Marketplace at any time during the year! Until now, pregnant women had to wait to apply for health insurance until the annual open enrollment period. HCFANY is proud to say that New York is the first state in the nation to adopt such an important law, demonstrating leadership in promoting access to health insurance for all!
The passage and signing of S5972/A6780 is significant and commendable because having health insurance during pregnancy can improve the health of mothers and their babies. Timely, quality pre-natal care can decrease the likelihood that a pregnant women will face health problems or that her baby will be born premature. According to the March of Dimes, nearly 9% of babies born in New York State are pre-term, which puts them at risk for many health problems. The new legislation should help decrease that percentage, assuring that more babies in New York get a healthy start in life.
The new special enrollment period may also significantly decrease healthcare costs for pregnant women who sign up for health insurance. Charges for pre-natal care and hospital care can be daunting for uninsured women. The costs quickly add up due to numerous pre-natal visits, ultrasounds, blood work and screening tests. Giving birth in a hospital is very expensive. On average, health insurance companies pay $9,800 for a normal delivery and $15,000 for a c-section, according to the International Federation of Health Plans. As of today, women in New York State will not have to worry about the full cost of pre-natal care and giving birth. Thanks to the new law, they will be able to access the full array of health services needed for a healthy pregnancy, birth and healthy baby.
HCFANY applauds New York State lawmakers and Governor Cuomo for working to protect the health of mothers and babies. You can read the governor’s press release here. Pregnant women will now be able to enroll on the Marketplace as soon as a doctor confirms they are expecting by going to the New York State of Health Marketplace. Women can also contact the Community Service Society Navigator Network for free enrollment assistance.
The health insurance enrollment process can be overwhelming. Take a look at these entertaining videos on health insurance literacy for navigators, assistors, and consumers brought to you by Cover Missouri, a project of the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH). They touch upon major issues and questions that you may encounter during the application process such as what questions to ask when you are on the phone with your carrier, common misconceptions of the Affordable Care Act, and how to find a primary care provider.
Check them out on YouTube:
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!