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The Telegram
  • Health exchange deadline is Monday

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  • If you want health coverage by Jan. 1 and want to buy a plan on the state exchange, you’d better hurry.
    The deadline for coverage is Monday.
    Just don’t try to sign up through the Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network. The state-contracted navigator agency is booked past the deadline, said Executive Director Diana Haldenwang. Her agency is referring people who want to sign up for Jan. 1 coverage to other navigator agencies, she said.
    Interest in signing up for exchange plans hasn’t slacked off since the exchange opened in October and might even be stronger now, Haldenwang said. So, the perinatal network still is booking appointments through the end of this year and into next year, she said.
    There’s been a “huge increase” in people asking for help in getting coverage from ACR Health, another navigator agency, said Steve Wood, community health coordinator.
    Navigators help people go through the application process for tax subsidies and help them weigh their health plan choices.
    Under the Affordable Care Act, everyone is required to have health insurance by Jan. 1, but people who sign up for coverage by March 31 won’t have to pay penalties. People still can buy exchange health plans through the end of March, but their coverage wouldn’t start until at least Feb. 1.
    As of early this week, 134,622 New Yorkers had enrolled in a health plan through the state health exchange, 95,196 in private plans or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and 39,426 in the expanded Medicaid program, according to the state. A total of 363,258 people have completed applications, but the rest had not signed up for a plan.
    Nationally, nearly 365,000 people had signed up for health plans through the federal and state exchanges by the end of November, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Another 803,077 were found eligible for CHIP or Medicaid.
    The department did not give a breakdown for how many have managed to sign up through the troubled healthcare.gov, the federal exchange that serves all but 13 states and the District of Columbia. After overloads on the first few days, the New York exchange has run much more smoothly, although the site still has problems processing applications sometimes because of difficulties with U.S. Federal Services data.
    Excellus BlueCross BlueShield reported almost 17,000 users for its tax credit calculator in October and November and 29,000 for its online provider finder tool.
    “It’s not too late for individuals to do their homework and enroll in a health plan that participates in the marketplace,” said Lynne Scalzo, vice president, business strategy and administration for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “So far, we’ve been impressed by the number of individuals who’ve researched their options and have called us or used online tools.”

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