affordable care act

Healthcare open enrollment poses challenges for some

17 hours ago
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For those with variable incomes, signing up for health insurance on the New York State of Health Marketplace can be tricky.

The application asks for information about income to help determine whether an individual qualifies for an advanced premium tax credit. In the case of a sole proprietor, it may not be clear how much they will make in any given year.

Jeff Welcher, account consultant at Rochester-area Bene-Care, a benefits administrator, says it’s best for a person in this situation to take a low credit to avoid owing money come tax time.

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High traffic on the New York State of Health website is to be expected, according to the head of the state exchange. Saturday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance that starts the first of the year.

So far, during this open enrollment period which started Nov. 15, more than 194,000 New Yorkers who didn't have health insurance have signed up.

Donna Frescatore, the executive director of the New York Health Benefit Exchange, says more than 40,000 of those were added since last week.

NY State of Health enrollment deadline extended

Dec 15, 2014
Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The national deadline to enroll in health care during the second year of open enrollment is today, December 15, but New York state has extended the deadline through Saturday, December 20.

If you plan to use the New York State of Health Marketplace to sign up for health care, you have five more days to enroll if you want your coverage to start on January 1. The extension applies for new or renewing coverage.

New Yorkers largely satisfied with new health insurance

Nov 18, 2014
WXXI File

Last month, Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 250 New York State residents new to insurance through the state exchange.

Ninety-two percent of those polled report being somewhat or completely satisfied with their coverage.

David Sandman, senior vice president of the New York State Health Foundation, says they were surprised by some of the results.

Open enrollment begins with window shopping

Nov 17, 2014
nystateofhealth.ny.gov

The second year of open enrollment for health insurance in both state and federal exchanges began over the weekend.

U.S. Health and Human Services opened HealthCare.gov early with a new “window-shopping” feature.

Jessica Kendall, director of the Enrollment Assister Network for FamiliesUSA, says the changes intend to make the process of purchasing health insurance easier.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period begins Saturday. One Syracuse agency is getting ready to help people who want to sign up or make a change in their health insurance policies.

In the first year of the Affordable Care Act, ACR Health in Syracuse signed up 8,000 central New Yorkers through the New York State of Health website, and about 6,000 of those people completed their health insurance enrollment. Now it’s time for the agency to get back to work during the next open enrollment period.

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

Officials for the New York State Health Exchange say $27 million will go to help residents connect with insurance -- the same amount as last year. The state health department says it’s ready for the second open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, starting November 15.

National health care advocates worry that most states will be investing less on support staff to help sign people up for insurance, than was invested last year.

Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, health equity director at Families USA, says the second year of the ACA open enrollment will need resources.

Mercy Health / Flickr

The Syracuse.com/Post-Standard/Siena College poll shows 17 percent of potential voters surveyed say health care is the most important issue to them.  In recent interviews, the two candidates in the 24th Congressional District race say there are good things and bad things about it.  

Democrat two-term Rep. Dan Maffei voted for the Affordable Care Act back in 2010, and he says he still supports the reforms that came with it.  But he admits there are problems.

During the last two elections New York and Pennsylvania Republicans campaigned on repealing and replacing so-called Obamacare – but House Republicans have yet to vote on a replacement plan.

Remember “repeal and replace”? It’s the campaign slogan that helped Republicans gain control of the House in 2010 and keep that majority in 2012. House leaders have done what they can to repeal the law – the GOP has cast more than 40 votes to scrap or defund all or part of the Affordable Care Act. But where’s the replacement?

ACR Health in Syracuse is getting a lot of calls from people who signed up for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, and are worried their health insurance costs are rising. But the experts who signed hundreds of people up for insurance in central New York say not to worry.

March 31 was the busiest day for New York's new health insurance marketplace. It was also the final day of the six month open enrollment period.

Almost 470,000 people visited the site and 39,000 signed up on that last day, according to the state's exchange, to bring the total to 926,000 enrolled.

Those newly covered signed up for a combination of the expanded federal Medicaid program, Child Health Plus, or a private provider.

The exchange is crediting its early success in enrollment with a functioning website, something the federal exchange was plagued with.

While touring a firefighter station in the Southern Tier town of Vestal recently, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) touted legislation that would exempt volunteer firefighters from the Affordable Care Act. The announcement comes a month after the U.S. Treasury Department already made the change.

Originally, the ACA counted volunteer firefighters as full-time employees. That would have made the Vestal fire stations and others around the country responsible to provide healthcare if they had more the 50 employees.

There's only a week left in the enrollment period for people to sign up to get health care through the Affordable Care Act. But there’s been a steady flow of central New Yorkers signing up for insurance policies through the New York exchanges in advance of that deadline.

ACR Health in Syracuse has been helping people in a nine-county area sign on to plans. Community Health Director Steve Wood says things have been going well so far, with 3,500 people covered by health insurance who weren’t before.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Cortland County has started a "Countdown to Coverage," to try and get the word out about the next major deadline for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

According to Lindy Glennon of the Cortland County Community Action Program, the next important date in the Affordable Care Act timeline is March 31, which is a little over three weeks away. March 31 is the last day to enroll in health coverage through the New York State of Health marketplace, without facing penalties.

People who are finding it difficult to pay for a health insurance policy offered through New York sate’s health care exchanges, may find a more affordable plan, if a proposal in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget goes through.

The governor’s proposed spending plan would allow New York to offer what’s called a "basic health care plan," according to Mary Clark, regional director of Citizen Action League of New York.

“That would really opens the doors to provide coverage at extremely low cost to families at 200 percent of poverty,” she said.

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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Today is the deadline for individuals to sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act in order to get coverage by Jan. 1. So far, New York state’s experience with this groundbreaking change in the way Americans get health care coverage has been generally positive.

Todd Muscatello is a Vice President for Sales at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Syracuse. As someone who deals in the vagaries of health insurance every day, he says he's glad he lives in New York state.  

As the deadline for health insurance plan applications approaches, one agency that’s offering individuals help with the process is finding itself very busy. ACR Health in Syracuse has exceeded expectations as far as signing people up in the state healthcare exchanges.

According to navigator Brian Vanbenschoten, ACR has already helped more than 1,100 people sign up for health insurance plans that will go into effect Jan. 1. That’s 300 more than the agency anticipated at this time.

There are only five days left for individuals to enroll in new health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, if they want that coverage to begin Jan. 1. But central New York insurers are urging people to avoid waiting until the last minute.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO/file photo

Sen. Charles Schumer says he is glad President Barack Obama is keeping his promise to Americans by allowing them to keep insurance plans that would have been canceled for an extra year. The president announced yesterday that even if insurances plans do not comply with the Affordable Care Act, policyholders are now able to keep those plans through 2014.

There’s less than a month until the Dec. 7 deadline, when Medicare’s open enrollment period ends.

Blaine Longnecker, a sales consultant out of Syracuse’s Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield office, said seniors eligible for the federal health insurance program who are looking to change their plan shouldn't bide their time.

There may be problems in other states for people signing up for health care under the Affordable Care Act, but things are moving smoothly in New York state, according to one organization in the midst of it. ACR Health in Syracuse says it has nothing but success stories.

Amid ongoing problems with the federal health insurance exchange website, New York is one of a handful of states where residents can successfully enroll through the state's health insurance marketplace, according to state officials.

Elisabeth Benjamin, a New York state health navigator, said the site did have some glitches in the first two weeks, but said now she is thrilled with the exchange's success so far.  

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One of the key points of contention in the Affordable Care Act is the medical devices tax. Republicans want the 2.3 percent tax designed to help fund health care reform removed.

The medical device industry has also lobbied extensively to have the tax repealed, claiming it will stifle innovation and result in job losses.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The health exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act opened Tuesday, and in short order there were two million hits on the New York state website that's selling health insurance policies. People who weren't turning to the website in central New York were lining up to get face-to-face information on how to choose a plan.

Willie Terrell, of Syracuse, has been waiting for this day since he lost his health insurance a year ago.

How will the Affordable Care Act affect you?

Oct 1, 2013

The federal health law's individual marketplaces have started. In New York nearly all Americans will be required to have health insurance starting January 1, 2014, or else they will be liable for a tax penalty. There is considerable confusion about the law. Some people aren't sure if they qualify and they have no clear idea of how much insurance might cost. 

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

New York State of Health, the marketplace exchange that will let New Yorkers choose health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is open for business starting Tuesday. The state has plenty of help available for anyone who's taking the jump into these historic waters.

New York is one of the states that will be offering insurance for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through state health exchanges. What is arguably the landmark feature of the law also known as Obamacare, the registration springs into action tomorrow when New Yorkers can begin shopping and buying health plans through a marketplace called New York State of Health. Implementation of the plan has had its bumps and bruises, but New York is ready to go, even if lingering concerns in certain sectors remain.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said threats in Congress to defund Obamacare won’t have any effect on the federal Affordable Health Care Act going forward in New York.

Cuomo said even if Congress is gridlocked over funding for the federal health care act, New York will still be going ahead on Oct. 1 with the required health care exchanges.

 “The health exchange is up and running,” Cuomo said on a trip to Niagara Falls. “I don’t believe there’s going to be any effect on the state.”

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

In less than two weeks, the health exchanges that are an integral part of the Affordable Care Act will go into business in New York state, but officials are already starting to hear from residents who want to know how this will affect their health care.

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