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September 23, 2013

New Yorkers have health-insurance options

PLATTSBURGH — Open enrollment for the health-insurance exchange in New York state starts Oct. 1. for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Erika Walker, the Adirondack Health Institute community health advocate for Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties, said the New York State of Health portal is the official place for New Yorkers to find health-insurance information.

It is a way for individuals and small-business owners to gain access to insurance, check eligibility (including possible financial assistance), calculate monthly costs, provide plan comparisons, receive in-person assistance and more.

“This is a brand new way to get health insurance. It’s scary, yet exciting,” she said at a recent Health Care Forum hosted by the North Country Chamber of Commerce.

PENALTIES

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said individuals must have insurance by Jan. 1, 2014. 

The deadline for employers to notify employees of their insurance options, including the State of Health marketplace, is Oct. 1. The Department of Labor has indicated there will be no penalty for those who do not do so.

Walker said in 2014, most individuals without health insurance will face a penalty of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, up to $285 or 1 percent of their annual family income, whichever is greater. 

In 2016, those figures are scheduled to increase to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to $2,085 or 2.5 percent of family income.

The mandate that companies with more than 50 full-time employees are required to offer an insurance plan has been postponed until at least 2015, Douglas said.

92 PERCENT RISE

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, is intended to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance so more people can get coverage, Walker said. 

She said between 2000 and 2009, the price of insurance increased by an average of 92 percent, while income levels increased an average of 14 percent.

The average cost of insurance is $12,000 per year for an individual and $24,000 for a family, Walker said. That was causing many employers to cut back on providing insurance, which is one reason 2.7 million New Yorkers are uninsured. 

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