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health as it happens

After changes, more insurance enrollment in New York - Spectrum News

Changes at the state and federal level, including increased financial aid and tax credits leading to lower monthly premium costs, have led to an increase in enrollment under New York's health insurance exchange, the state Department of Health announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, more than 1.4 million New Yorkers between March 2020 and August 2021 have signed up for health care coverage under the marketplace, a key structure of the federal Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that is meant to create a competitive marketplace to buy insurance.

The added enrollment comes as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has otherwise taxed the health care system in New York and around the country. More than 2,000 people in New York are hospitalized with the virus amid a summer surge of cases due to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Enrollment continues through the end of the year.

“These data show the important role of NY State of Health in the lives of millions of New Yorkers. The Marketplace has been critical during the public health emergency in ensuring New Yorkers can easily access affordable coverage and do not experience coverage gaps,” said acting NY State of Health Executive Director Danielle Holahan. “We encourage New Yorkers who need health insurance to apply today and let us find a health plan that works for you.”

The marketplace has been in place for nearly a decade in New York. As of Aug. 31, more than 6.3 million people -- or one in three New Yorkers -- have enrolled in health care coverage through the state's health insurance exchange.

The added enrollment comes after changes in policy at the state and federal levels, which the Department of Health this week directly attributed to the increase. In March, Congress approved a federal stimulus plan that increased the amount fo financial aid to people purchasing insurance, and extended tax credits to higher-income New Yorkers.

At the same time, the state budget approved in April made changes to New York's Essential Plan that was meant to make it more affordable and provide more coverage.

More than 40,000 people have enrolled under the Qualified Health Plan since financial assistance became available in April. Nearly 72,000 people who receive coverage under the Qualified Health Plan pay less than $100 per month for their premium.

And a record 914,000 people signed up for coverage under the Essential Plan in August. The majority of people enrolled in coverage under the state's health care exchange are younger than 35, a key metric for having younger, healthier people sign up in order to spread out the cost of care.