There are less than two months left for people to sign on to a health insurance plan and avoid tax penalties for not having insurance in 2014.
Steve Wood, community health coordinator of the ACR Health Syracuse office, said they are continuing outreach in nine counties in central New York, encouraging people to get help from specially trained navigators who can help with the process.
"Individuals and families must sign up by Feb.15 if they want insurance to start by March 1. Small business employers and employees must sign up by Feb. 28 for coverage to begin April 1. And March 31 is the last day to enroll and not face any tax penalties for not being uninsured in 2014," Wood said.
Wood says there are some common stumbling blocks that people run into.
“When you first start your application, there’s a box that says, 'do you want help paying for insurance?' And the majority of people we’ve seen who are having trouble have not checked that box," Wood said. "It’s one of the simplest mistakes we’ve seen. So that means you’ll pay full price for insurance, and they won’t assess you for medicaid.”
Since October, ACR has helped 1,600 people in nine counties sign on to a policy through the New York State of Health Marketplace. Wood admits there are still areas that are harder to reach, for example Cayuga County and parts of the North Country. But he said that the outreach will intensify in some of those areas as another deadline approaches.
The latest figures from the New York State Department of Health show nearly 381,000 New Yorkers have signed on with an insurance company. Wood said the policies are split evenly between young people, middle aged people, and older people.
"We have gotten a lot of people 19 and over. People coming off child health plus who need insurance, college age. We have a lot of people coming in who are in restaurant jobs, hairdressers, retail, people like that who aren’t offered insurance by their employer," Wood said.