Don’t Worry! NYS Navigators WILL Be Available for Open Enrollment

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!

Yes folks, it's the Hoover Dam!

A press release issued by Governor Cuomo’s office yesterday announced that New Yorkers will save over $500 million on health insurance premiums this year thanks to the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) utilization of the State’s prior approval law.  As you may remember, New York’s 2010 prior approval law allows DFS officials to review insurance rate increases before they go into effect and scale them back if they are too high.

Health insurers had requested overall increases averaging around 12.4%, which were then cut down to an average of 7.5% by DFS.  Rate increases for small group plans will increase an average of 9.5%, down from the average 15.7% increase requested by the insurance plans.  Prior to passage of the prior approval law, annual premium rate increases averaged 14%.

These modest increases stand out at a time when many states are experiencing double-digit increases in premiums.  For example, an article in Saturday’s New York Times notes that states like Florida and Ohio have seen rates rise by as much as 20%, with similar rate increases proposed in California.

The Affordable Care Act requires states to review any proposed rate increases above 10%, however New York is one of 37 states which allows state officials to deny excessive rate increases (an issue that is explored further in the Times article).

So, thanks again to our Senate Democrats who really championed this issue back in 2010 and made savings like this possible today.  We appreciate the work you do!!!

See below for a breakdown of the average requested rate increase and what the DFS ended up actually approving.  For the full list of increases by insurance plans, see the Governor’s press release.


Health Insurance Market Segment
Total Number
of Members Affected
Requested Annual Rate Increase (Weighted Average)
Approved Annual Rate Increase (Weighted Average)
Reduction by DFS
Individual, direct-pay
Small Group
Large Group
Medicare Supplement

Click here to read the Governor’s press release.

Click here to read the NYTimes article, titled “Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits.”



The second meeting of the Governor’s Health Care Reform Advisory Committee was held last Monday, October 25th, in Albany.  Several representatives from HCFANY and our member organizations were in attendance.

 Along with updates on the NY Bridge Plan, NYSHIP, and incoming federal grants, the bulk of the conversation centered around the establishment of seven “work groups.”

These work groups will be tasked with working on several specific issues related to health care reform implementation.  The following is a list of preliminary topics:

  • Health Insurance Exchange
  • Commercial Market Reforms
  • Public Health Insurance Programs
  • Outreach and Enrollment
  • Cost-containment/Delivery System Reforms
  • Public Health
  • Long-term Care

Officials from the State Department of Health stated that they would be posting information, meeting times, and an RSVP link on the state’s implementation website for any groups interested in attending.

To view the documents distibuted at the October 25th meeting, click here.

Today Governor Paterson announced the 37 organizations, including HCFANY and many of our partners, that will make up the new external Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will provide input to the Health Care Reform Cabinet and ensure that consumers and other stakeholders have an opportunity to weigh in on the important decisions the State will be making as health care reform is implemented.

In April, HCFANY urged the Governor to create a workgroup with diverse consumer participation, and we are pleased to see that the new Committee has many consumer advocacy organizations. Many of HCFANY’s member organizations will have a seat on the Committee, in addition to HCFANY’s appointment, including: Children’s Defense Fund, Community Service Society, Family Planning Advocates, Medicare Rights Center, the New York Immigration Coalition, and New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage. Our friends at the Empire Justice Center and Medicaid Matters were also appointed.

The Governor’s press release, with a full list of the organizations appointed to the Advisory Committee and the Committee’s responsibilities, is available here.

We look forward to working with the other members of the Advisory Committee to make sure that New York State is able to leverage the opportunities of health care reform to achieve affordable, comprehensive, high quality health care for all!