Thursday, 07 November 2013 00:00
As I was hosting a meeting on the evening of October 23, at the Syosset Public Library on the Affordable Care Act and the NY State of Health, New York’s version of the health benefit exchange, the Obama administration was announcing that those seeking to purchase health insurance through the new online marketplace will have an additional six weeks to do so without risk of penalty.
The timing really couldn’t have been better. Since October 1, when the NY State of Health opened, there have been some technical as well as emotional glitches as individuals and families attempt to find their way to the healthcare plan that best fits their lives.
While the information provided through the Community Services Society, which leads a network of Navigators charged with assisting residents and small businesses within New York State shop for and enroll in health coverage plans, and the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, an assigned Navigator, was thorough, understandable and complete with examples, there were still people with questions that did not fit into one of the more simple explanations.
By visiting nystateofhealthy.ny.gov New Yorkers can shop for and compare health insurance packages online. The exchange also makes it easy for people to check their eligibility for health care programs like Medicaid and Child Health Plus and sign up for those programs if they are eligible.
Some coverage will be offered for free or at a reduced cost through subsidies or tax credits. You may qualify for tax credits if you are an individual earning up to $45,900 a year or a family of four earning up to $94,200 annually. You may also qualify for Insurance Affordability Programs, including Medicaid, Child Health Plus, Advance Premium Tax Credits and Cost-Sharing Reductions, which can lower the cost of your coverage.
Such an expansive marketplace can be daunting however, so it is important for people to reach out to those who can help; namely the Navigators. They are trained to assist you in multiple languages, in community-based settings and during non-traditional hours such as evenings and weekends.
By visiting nystateofhealth.ny.gov or by calling 1-855-355-5777, you can find a Navigator in your area that can provide detailed information on the ACA and the insurance plans available in the marketplace that best suit your needs. They will work on your behalf or if you are more comfortable, you can designate a trusted friend, relative, partner or lawyer as an authorized representative to manage your application and act on your behalf.
Most importantly, have all the information you can so you can make an intelligent decision based on your needs. The extra six weeks should you give the time to do that. If my staff or I can be of assistance, please feel free to call us at 516-676-0050.