Just 7% on NY's health exchange in private plans

ALBANY -- Enrollment in New York's health exchange continued its surge this year, fueled by extraordinary growth in publicly subsidized options.

The ability of low-income residents to enroll in Medicaid and its offshoot called the Essential Plan led few people signing up for health care through private insurers, state records show.

Only 7 percent of the state's 3.6 million enrollees on the state's version of so-called Obamacare picked a qualified health plan managed by the dozen or so private-insurance companies, the state Health Department said late Wednesday.

Overall, enrollment on the NY State of Health exchange jumped 28 percent amid ongoing proposals by President Trump and the Republican-led Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Two-thirds of enrollees were in Medicaid, the state's $60 billion program for the poor and disabled.

The enrollment period for 2017 ended Jan. 31.

“New York continues its commitment to bring affordable, comprehensive health coverage to New Yorkers,” Donna Frescatore, the NY State of Health executive director, said in a statement. “New Yorkers now have access to affordable health insurance coverage, giving hundreds of thousands of previously uninsured individuals economic and healthcare security.”

The 2017 marketplace offered three public plan options: Medicaid, Child Health Plus and the Essential Plan. The latter of the three is an additional plan offered to who are lower-income but do not qualify for Medicaid or Child Health Plus.

The Essential Plan has been widely popular because participants, who are income eligible, can spend $20 a month for health care with no deductibles. The income limit is $48,600 for a family of four.

The program is heavily subsidized by the federal government, making it attractive for the state to participate.
So the Essential Plan's enrollment soared to 665,000 during the enrollment period, a 75 percent increase.
Just 242,880 enrolled in private plans.

Still, the majority of enrollees were in Medicaid, the health-insurance program for the poor and disabled.

More than 2.4 million, or 67 percent, of customers on the exchange were on Medicaid.

Since more people are enrolling in Medicaid through the exchange, it led to a drop off on people who enrolled in the program outside the exchange, according to the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank.

The group said nearly 7.3 million people enrolled in state-run health insurance programs at the end of 2016, a 2 percent increase overall.

The numbers come as Obamacare is likely to face an overhaul in Washington.

State officials last month warned that about 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose health insurance if the exchange is repealed.

The state could be hit with a $3.7 billion funding cut, which would bust its budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has estimated.

For more information about the NY State of Health Marketplace, visit: https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/

(© 2017 WGRZ)


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