Many people have seen the bad news that in other states, enrollment in plans regulated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is down. What people in New York might have missed is that here, enrollments are up! New York also has a longer open enrollment period than most states.
When states first implemented the ACA, they had a choice: create their own Marketplace to sell ACA plans, or use the infrastructure created by the federal government. New York decided to create its own Marketplace, which means New York decides for itself what to spend on marketing and outreach and when the open enrollment period ends. If you want health insurance by January 1, your deadline is December 15 – don’t procrastinate! But if you miss the deadline, you can enroll by January 15 for insurance that starts on February 1 and by January 31 for insurance that starts on March 1.
Another benefit of that long-ago decision is that the marketplace, called the New York State of Health (NYSOH), integrates all the different state and federal programs that help people afford health insurance. When you create a NYSOH profile, you provide information about your income and family size. Based on that information, NYSOH lets you know if you are eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan, or Advanced Premium Tax Credits and cost-sharing reductions. Then you can choose a plan.
Many people have questions or want advice before they make such an important decision. Immigrants may be especially worried about accessing health care programs and sometimes have questions about their immigration status and eligibility for help. New York funds a fantastic network of community organizations to help you, wherever you live. The Navigator Network helps individuals and small business owners choose plans through NYSOH and enroll. You can use the central helpline to find assistance (888-614-5400) or you can review the list of local numbers on the website. The Community Health Advocates program, which can be reached at the same number, helps people manage other aspects of getting health insurance, including disputes about eligibility. Both programs provide assistance in many languages including Spanish, Russian, Urdu, and others. If you are uncertain at all about getting health insurance, call and ask for help – it’s better to find out for certain than to go without health coverage unnecessarily!