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By Ruth C Modaffari, NYS Certified Application Counselor and Financial Advocate, Finger Lakes Community Health, an independent healthcare organization with eight health centers in the region.

Not everyone is looking forward to this time of year for health insurance enrollment, but it’s a necessity. And there are so many options, it can be confusing. It might help you to know that you’re not the only one that struggles with this task. A record 4.7 million New Yorkers enrolled in insurance coverage and we have seen a record low state uninsured rate, going from ten percent in 2013 to below five percent today.

“It’s evident in the numbers released today that there is high demand for quality, affordable health coverage,” said NY State of Health Executive Director, Donna Frescatore. “The 2019 record enrollment levels are proof that New York’s Marketplace remains strong.”

Keep in mind that open enrollment for the NYS Marketplace starts November 1 and ends December 15th, 2019.

Choice of Health Plans in Every NYS County

New Yorkers have a broad choice of affordable and quality health plan options through the Marketplace in every county of the state. Statewide, 12 health insurers offer Qualified Health Plans (QHP) to individuals and nine also offer plans to small businesses. Throughout the 2019 Open Enrollment Period, most QHP consumers had a choice of at least four individual market insurer options.

Sixteen health insurers offer coverage to Essential Plan enrollees through the Marketplace, while 18 insurers offer Medicaid and 16 offer Child Health Plus (CHP). Eleven insurers participate in all individual market programs offered through the NY State of Health.

The Essential Plan?
Compared to a Qualified Health Plan (QHP), the Essential Plan reduces both premium and out-of-pocket costs for enrollees by approximately $1,485 a year, saving New Yorkers an estimated $719 million a year.

What about health insurance for children?
Few children are enrolled in Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) – they are enrolled in Child Health Plus (CHP). This is not surprising since children under the age of 19 in families with incomes between 138% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) must be enrolled in Child Health Plus rather than in QHPs to receive the premium and cost-sharing subsidies for which they are eligible. Ninety-five percent of children enrolled in Child Health Plus through the Marketplace are enrolled with no premium or sliding scale premiums, and 5% are enrolled with full premiums.

Informing Consumers
The NY State of Health is committed to getting its positive messages out to consumers during the Open Enrollment Period through the “You Deserve Affordable Health Care” advertising campaign, at more than 300 community outreach events, by distributing 2.7 million pieces of educational material, and by sending nearly four million emails to consumers reminding them of important steps needed to complete their enrollment. New Yorkers continue to use all enrollment channels this year – in person, phone and website – with in-person assistance by far the most popular enrollment option. In 2019, more than 3.7 million, or 78 percent of individuals, enrolled with the help of an in-person assistor, including navigators, certified application counselors and licensed insurance brokers.

Enrolling just got easier. Reach out for help.

Finger Lakes Community Health has assisted New Yorkers with getting health insurance since the 1980s. The Financial Advocates at Finger Lakes Community Health will walk you through the health insurance enrollment process from start to finish. Insurance enrollment can be complicated and frustrating, so why not let the Financial Advocates at Finger Lakes Community Health break down those barriers and assist you in the process. The best part is that there is no cost for the Financial Advocates assistance — it is completely free. Our Financial Advocates follow our company motto by “Taking the time to care”.

To speak with a Financial Advocate, call our Administrative Offices at (315) 531-9102. Our staff will direct you to a Financial Advocate in your area and help you schedule an appointment to meet with them. Don’t forget open enrollment is much shorter this year meaning space for appointments will be limited, so call now and get your appointment! Open enrollment for the NYS Marketplace starts November 1 and ends December 15th, 2019.