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As COVID-19 lingers, deadline for state health insurance extended

NEW YORK STATE — As the state continues to offer supportive services to its residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, uninsured New Yorkers seeking coverage can breathe a sigh of relief as the deadline for the special enrollment period for health insurance has been extended through Saturday, Aug. 15.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made an announcement regarding the extension on Wednesday, July 15, during which time he reported that New Yorkers can apply for coverage through the NY State of Health, the official health insurance marketplace, or directly through insurers. Additionally, under Cuomo’s direction, all New York insurers have waived cost sharing for COVID-19 testing. 

“During these difficult and unprecedented times, access to quality, affordable health care is critically important to New Yorkers’ well-being,” Cuomo stated on the 15th. “While we’re continuing to move in the right direction, we know we’re not out of the woods yet and by extending the open enrollment period we’re making sure New Yorkers who need affordable health care coverage can get it and help keep themselves and their families safe.”

The document, “Mid-Hudson Region Community Health Assessment 2019-2021,” states that, according to a survey of small area health insurance estimates conducted by the United States Census Bureau in 2016, Westchester County held the highest percentage of uninsured individuals in the Mid-Hudson Region at 8% as well as the highest percentage of uninsured adults between the ages of 16 and 64 at 9%. In that same year, the total percentage of uninsured individuals in Rockland and Sullivan Counties was calculated at 7%, followed by Ulster and Orange Counties at 6% and Dutchess and Putnam Counties at 5%. Taking a closer look at Dutchess County, the Census Bureau determined that 6% of the county’s adults were uninsured as were 3% of the county’s children.

Working together with the New York State Department of Financial Services and New York State insurers, NY State of Health has offered itself as a “safety net” to individuals and families seeking health insurance and is taking part in the special enrollment extension “so that individuals do not avoid seeking eating or medical care for fear of cost,” according to Cuomo’s website, www.governor.ny.gov.

Visiting the NY State of Health website at www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov, New Yorkers will find a selection of low cost, quality health insurance options to explore and compare. In order to shop in the marketplace, individuals must live in the state and be a U.S. citizen, national or lawfully present immigrant; however, regulations dictate that different immigration rules may apply if the individual is eligible for Child Health Plus, NYS Medicaid or the Essential Plan based on their income. Other restrictions apply.

Individuals who have lost employer coverage should apply within 60 days of losing their health insurance while individuals who have lost income may be eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan, Child Health Plus or subsidized Qualified Health Plans. As published on the governor’s website, individuals who enroll in Qualified Health Plans either through NY State of Health or directly through insurers by Saturday, Aug. 15, will have a choice for their coverage start date on either Saturday, Aug. 1, or Tuesday, Sept. 1. Individuals who are eligible for other NY State of Health programs — including Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus — can enroll year-round.

Apply online at www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov, by phone at 1-855-355-5777 or by connecting with a free enrollment assistant on the NY State of Health website. Dutchess County residents can find additional resources on health insurance and health services for the uninsured and underinsured online at www.dutchessny.gov/Departments/DBCH/Health-Insurance.htm.

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