There has been a lot of news lately about the problems people are having getting health insurance through the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “ObamaCare.” This may be true in other states, but health coverage under the ACA is proceeding on track in New York State.
The Community Service Society (CSS) has been selected by the New York State Department of Health to take the lead as a Navigator network to help New Yorkers and small businesses shop for and enroll in health coverage through the NY State of Health, the official health plan marketplace. CSS is partnering with 38 community-based organizations and small business-serving groups to serve 61 of New York’s 62 counties, with over 250 locations around the state where consumers can meet with a Navigator one-on-one.
Individuals and small employers who would like to meet with a Navigator in the CSS Navigator network can contact CSS at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone toll-free at 888-614-5400.
The ACA was signed into law in March 2010. It has been phased in over the past three years. Insurance marketplaces opened on October 1, 2013, for coverage that begins on January 1, 2014.
A new, online New York State health insurance marketplace was created under the ACA – the NY State of Health. This is a health consumer assistance program for New York’s families, individuals, and small businesses.
The marketplace makes comparing health plan costs and benefits easy, and it gives New Yorkers access to free insurance coverage or financial help to buy their own if they cannot afford to pay for their insurance. As a result, insurance prices are 53 percent less expensive on average than before.
Why does New York need the ACA? About 2.6 million New Yorkers are uninsured. Half of uninsured adults work full time. Insurance prices have outpaced wages. Between 2000 and 2009, health insurance premiums in New York increased by 92 percent, while median income rose by only 14 percent. And employers were cutting back on health care benefits or dropping them.
This is a quote from a client of ours.
“I am going to have health insurance for the first time in my life. I can now sleep at night. It is the constant worry that gets you. What if I get sick? How will I get the care I need or pay for my medicine? Now I don’t have that worry. The enrollment process was very smooth. Hannah, my CSS Navigator, was wonderful and made things much easier for me. I could not have done it alone.”
In addition to individual and family enrollment, about 81 percent of small businesses in New York State (285,000 firms) are eligible for tax credits for providing health insurance for their employees. But many eligible businesses don’t know about the credits. ACA tax credits have already benefited 360,000 small businesses in the U.S. covering two million workers.
New Yorkers can sign up for insurance through a Navigator, a local insurance assistor. Navigators provide in person application assistance at initial enrollment, and they remove barriers to the application process by providing assistance in multiple languages and in community based settings.
You can call the CSS Navigator network or NY State of Health direct toll-free at 855-355-5777 or go online.