Thousands get 2014 insurance from NY marketplace

December 24, 2013 Associated Press
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ALBANY— With health insurance through New York’s marketplace scheduled to start next year, thousands of policyholders have to change coverage while even more uninsured are signing up for new policies.

Facing a late influx of applications, the exchange pushed back enrollment deadlines twice, most recently to midnight Tuesday for policies effective Jan. 1. Unlike the troubled federal marketplace operating in 36 states, New York established its own, which has had some but fewer software problems.

Meanwhile, about 100,000 New Yorkers are losing policies deemed noncompliant with the federal law that’s driving the effort, including sole business proprietors insured through their professional associations or chambers of commerce.

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By Monday, the state exchange reported 421,949 New Yorkers completed applications for individual or family coverage while 188,546 of them have enrolled for insurance. They included 136,783 signed up with the 16 nonprofit and commercial insurers in the marketplace, also called an exchange, and 51,763 in government-funded Medicaid, according to the state Health Department, which runs the exchange.

“We are seeing tremendous activity, and in the last week alone enrollments have increased by about 34 percent,” said Donna Frescatore, exchange executive director.

Open enrollments for coverage starting later next year are scheduled to continue through March 31.

The state, with about 2.7 million uninsured, has projected enrolling 1.1 million New Yorkers through the exchange and adding about 500,000 to Medicaid over the next three years.

With about 1 million New Yorkers who report being self-employed, the federal law requires sole proprietors to buy insurance as individuals. Thousands had insurance through professional associations that they are scheduled to lose next year.

They included 536 attorneys who are solo practitioners and had insurance through the New York State Bar Association, though some policies won’t expire for several months, said association spokeswoman Lise Bang-Jensen. They can get new insurance, though it’s not the same as they had, and some people in New York City and Long Island are having trouble getting equivalent insurance, she said.

State officials estimate 55 percent of the sole proprietors have incomes less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level and will be eligible for federal tax credits to offset premium costs. Many others have insurance through a spouse’s coverage through the insurance plan of a large employer.

Separately, the state has established an online exchange for small business with 50 or fewer employees, where those with fewer than 25 staff may qualify for tax credits.

State data on small business enrollments and total insurance policy cancellation notices sent statewide under the federal law were not immediately available.

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