Guest post by Bob Cohen, Policy Director, Citizen Action of New York
Read your daily newspaper, watch cable TV or go on any news site the week of November 11th, and you’re treated to one story after another about the failures of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. When I typed the words “Obamacare” followed by “glitch” into Google on November 14th, I got 5.1 million hits. However, like a lot of the other storylines in the media-filled world we live in today, there’s another side to this story, especially here in New York.
On November 12th, the New York State of Health announced that since October 1st, the beginning of enrollment, 197,011 New Yorkers had “completed the full application process” and been found eligible for coverage. Of this number, 48,162 had enrolled in plans.
With these numbers, it looks like New York is on track to more than meet its stated first year target of enrolling roughly one-third of its ultimate goal of 1 million New Yorkers (i.e. 250,000). Here’s my admittedly “back-of-the envelope” calculation:
Even if you assume that around 100,000 people, or roughly half of those who’ve already been determined eligible, don’t ultimately pick a plan by the end of open enrollment on March 31, 2014, we’d still be at more 400,000 enrollees by the end of March. (Mid-November is the end of roughly one quarter of the six month open enrollment period.)
And, the 100,000 guesstimate doesn’t even take into account the fact that most health care policy experts are saying that the enrollment pace will quicken as time goes on, and that some people, such as those losing their employer-provided health coverage and those eligible for Medicaid, will be able to enroll after March 31st.
Clearly, the numbers suggest New Yorkers and people in other states are extremely interested in enrolling in health coverage, as any person working for a community-based organization to enroll New Yorkers one-on-one, called a “Navigator,” will be quick to tell you. (To find a Navigator, click here.) As advocates, we need to play the dual role of helping state officials get the word out to more New Yorkers about the value of getting covered, while continuing to make recommendations on how to streamline the process and otherwise ensure that all New Yorkers who want health coverage can easily access the Marketplace. If we’re successful, the numbers may rise even higher in the coming months.