State health officials have awarded $27 million in grants to help enroll more than a million uninsured New Yorkers in a new health insurance marketplace for coverage starting next year.
The grants will go to 50 organizations that will help applicants, including individuals, families and small businesses and their employees, get into the federally required and subsidized marketplace for buyers.
Enrollment begins Oct. 1. Health department officials expect to enroll about 1.1 million people with assistance in every county and in 48 languages. There are about 2.7 million uninsured people in New York.
"We want consumers and small business owners to know that we're here to help them understand their health plan options, qualify for financial assistance and enroll in a health plan through the exchange," said Donna Frescatore, exchange executive director. The state estimate of new enrollees includes 615,000 individuals and 450,000 employees of small businesses.
While the Obama administration recently announced a one-year delay in penalties for employers who don't offer affordable coverage to workers considered full time, the state's analysis shows penalties are not the driving force behind the planned expansion in coverage, health department spokesman Bill Schwarz said. That change is expected to have little effect on New York's exchange, he said.
The grants to 50 organizations, supported by 96 subcontractors, are expected to provide free in-person enrollment help with more than 430 trained and certified staff, according to the department. Their training is planned for August, with work in communities starting in mid-September.
Officials plan to award $27 million for the program annually for five years, Schwarz said. Meanwhile, the state has received $40.17 million in federal funds for marketing and advertising over two years and has retained the firm DDB, he said.
Advertising is planned starting in September for television, radio, print, social media and on subways and buses, Frescatore said.
Under the federal mandate, people getting insurance through the exchange and who meet certain income thresholds can tap into an estimated $2.6 billion in federal tax credits and subsidies annually.
Tax credits will offset premium payments with subsidies covering out-of-pocket medical costs like co-payments, up to certain thresholds. The credits work on a sliding scale based on a percentage of income. For example, individuals with income up to 149 percent of the federal poverty level will pay no more than 4 percent of their income for premiums.