Obamacare anew in NY

Lower costs

Some plans will actually be lowering rates, like the 15.3 percent decrease of United HealthCare of New York. But even with the hikes, rates are is still more than 50 percent lower than before the state marketplace opened up. It can be lower still for certain low-income levels (below $46,680 for an individual and below $95,400 for a family of four) with subsidies available to cover coverage costs, which three-quarters of New Yorkers enrolled in Obamacare do receive.

“Even with increases,” said James T. Mulder of the Understanding Obamacare blog on Syracuse.com, “the rates offered on the state exchange will still be significantly less than average prices for individual coverage before Obamacare, when New York had some of the highest rates in the country.” Prior to the ACA, he added, double-digit hikes were common.

Because so many New Yorkers signed on during the last enrollment period — including the neediest of the uninsured — many fewer are expected to do so in this next go-round that’s about to begin. So it’s anticipated that insurance “navigators,” counselors and state agencies will be working hard to gather those remaining uninsured and meet the challenges in finding them and signing them up. They’re hoping that word of mouth will help that cause, as well as translating notices and ads into seven languages, including Spanish, Chinese and Russian.

Also, the state marketplace website — www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov — is going to publish a Spanish-language version. This useful site only took a couple days to get working properly when ACA launched, compared to the countrywide site, healthcare.gov, which was problematic for a much longer period of time.

Both websites are good sources of info now, however, and as we move into the next enrollment period, as is obamacarefacts.com. The state Department of Financial Services encourages people to log commentary on rate changes on its website.

People enrolled for 2014 will likely be automatically reenrolled for 2015 but can renew or change plans for 2015. Plans and potential prices will be available to view in early November and the enrollment period for 2015 is scheduled to end February 15.

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