By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Even as the debate over “Obamacare,” or the Affordable Care Act, still rages on Capitol Hill, some of the much-touted “Health Exchanges” are now being established. One of these exchanges is being set up in New York state effective Oct. 1, but not many people know the details.
To this end, the New York State Department of Health, which is setting up the exchange in this state, has created a name for the program, “NY State of Health,” and a website. While many of the details are still being worked out, the website seeks to answer many often-asked questions.
According to the site, “NY State of Health is an organized marketplace designed to help people shop for and enroll in health insurance coverage. Individuals, families and small businesses will be able to use the Marketplace to help them compare insurance options, calculate costs and select coverage online, in-person, over the phone or by mail.
“The Marketplace will also be able to tell what type of financial assistance is available to applicants to help them afford health insurance purchased through the Marketplace.”
While enrollment begins Oct. 1, the program will not be effective until Jan. 1, 2014. It is geared for small businesses that may not be able to afford coverage for their employees, and for individuals under 65 who don’t now have coverage and who are not eligible for Medicare.
People with pre-existing conditions, the website stresses, are eligible to apply – some private insurance companies will not insure people with these conditions.
The program is being developed with more than $368 million in federal grant money as well as a grant from the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The site also has a county-by-county feature, and specifies those insurance companies that are offering plans in Kings County. Each plan will be available in four “tiers”: bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
These include, for individuals: Affinity Health Plan, EmblemHealth, Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Fidelis Care, Health Republic (Freelancers), Healthfirst, MetroPlus Health Plan, Oscar and United.
For small businesses, the following companies are offering plans: Health Republic (Freelancers), MetroPlus Health Plan and United.
For more information, call the Customer Service Center at 1-855-355-5777.