New York's Health Benefit Exchange explained

Posted at: 07/17/2013 11:38 PM
By: Lynette Adams

If you are among the more than one million New Yorkers who don't have health insurance, soon you will be able to enroll in an affordable plan.

On Wednesday New York State approved the 17 companies taking part in its Health Benefit Exchange. It also approved the rate they will charge. This is part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter praised the new law for slashing costs in half for some New Yorkers.

"As the New York Times reported early this morning, some individuals in New York could see their premiums go from $1,000 per month to as low as $308 per month and subsidies provided through the Affordable Care Act will drive premiums even lower," said Congresswoman Slaughter.

Not only will the Health Benefit Exchange provide plan choices for New Yorkers, but depending on your income, you may be eligible for incentives and tax breaks to help you pay for coverage.

News10NBC wanted to help you make sense of the changes that will take place in October, opening the door for people who don't have health insurance now to get it.

To get that information we turned to Ron Brandwein, who runs Monroe County's Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program, known as HIICAP. Brandwein says this program is specifically for people who don't have insurance or who now pay for their own insurance.

While he says the specifics about each plan are still trickling in, he did say the 17 insurance companies will include local companies like Excellus, MVP and Fidelis Care.

Starting October 1, people will be able to go online, look at the plans and choose one based on his or her needs and finances. There will also be workers at different locations across the county to help people navigate the new plans.

You'll be able to decide what level of coverage you want, starting with basic insurance at the bronze level, all the way to the most comprehensive coverage at the gold level.

Businesses which employee fewer than 50 people will be eligible to use the exchange. News10NBC wanted to know what's it all going to cost and what you'll get for your money.

“At least four levels of coverage to choose from at different prices range from approximately to $170 dollars a month per person up to somewhere around the $900 per person range for the best policy, which right now if you went and tried to purchase on your own as an individual from Excellus or MVP, would probably be in the $1200 a month range,” said Brandwein.

“So there could be a savings?” asked News10NBC's Lynette Adams.

“Looks like there is,” said  Brandwein.

Congresswoman Slaughter estimates more than 56,000 people in her district, which includes most of Monroe County, will benefit from the state exchange, and 35,000 people who now pay for their own insurance will have access to more secure, higher quality coverage, and again may be eligible for tax breaks to help them pay for it.

Republican Congressman Chris Collins issued this statement on the health care plan Wednesday.

In part he says, "I have heard countless stories from people across my district who have had their hours cut due to Obamacare, or have found out their insurance company will no longer be offering their plan. Obamacare is already having a negative impact on our nation's economy and its only going to get worse,” said Collins.