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NY health insurance exchanges on track for October deadline

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Albany/HV: NY health insurance exchanges on track for October deadline
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With about six months until people can register for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges, states are ramping up their efforts to make sure they're ready in time. New York is well on its way to meeting the October 1st deadline. Our Katie Gibas spoke with insurers and state exchange officials about what still needs to be done before the exchange can open.

NEW YORK STATE -- Rising health insurance costs are a problem for almost everyone.

"There's proven studies that show that people that are uninsured today add to the overall cost of insurance premiums for those that do have coverage," said Jim Reed, the Excellus BCBS Senior VP Marketing and Sales

That's why as part of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, the government will offer subsidies to help defray that cost. Individuals making less than $45,000 or a family of making less than $92,000 would qualify for help.

"We estimate that about 450,000 New Yorkers will be eligible for tax support and that's annually estimated to be $2.4 billion in help. So it will really go a long way in making coverage more affordable," said Danielle Holahan, the New York Health Benefit Exchange Deputy Director.

The subsidies are only available for people who enroll in state insurance exchanges. Exchanges are like shopping centers where you enroll and choose the policy that best suits your needs.

"We compare it to Expedia. So how you shop for airline tickets or hotels. It's a web-based search engine that based on demographics and income of the individual person return an option demonstration of what is available for that person in that market place," said Reed.

Holahan added, "The intent is to make this a very easy process for you to figure out what your plan options are and what your eligibility for federal tax credits will be. And to come to one front door, be evaluated for eligibility and enroll in coverage."

Exchanges had to be created from scratch and New York is on track to meet the October first enrollment deadline. By April 1st, insurance companies have to submit applications to the state documenting what plans they would offer.

"We will sell health insurance through an individual market through the exchange the same way we do for employers who buy our health insurance coverage today," said Reed.

State officials say the exchange will extend coverage to about one million New Yorkers. And with the more people will come better stability, which should keep insurance premiums in check.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees do not have to contribute to insurance plans, but there are tax credits available if they do. Companies with more than 50 employees do have to provide insurance or pay a penalty.

For more information on how the Affordable Care Act will affect you, check out the links below.

www.healthcarereform.ny.gov

www.healthcare.gov

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