Questions flood Affordable Care Act call centers, websites

Posted at: 10/01/2013 2:04 PM
Updated at: 10/01/2013 7:12 PM
By: Benita Zahn

The Affordable Care Act officially opened for business at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

The New York State customer center phone lines have been lit up but the website been struggling to keep up.

There has been no time to breathe between calls at the customer service center for the New York State of Health marketplace. These are the folks tasked with answering your questions about the Affordable Care Act.

The demand for information was high - more than 2,500 calls within the first two hours. Over on the website, the demand was overwhelming. State health officials say they had 10 million hits on Tuesday. That slowed things down. They say they are working to remedy that and expect smooth sailing by January 1 when the health plans take effect. You have until March 31 to sign up for health insurance before penalties kick in.

16 health plans are offered, along with 10 dental plans.

The plans are grouped into tiers, bronze, silver, gold and platinum - bronze having the least expensive premiums but most out of pocket cost. Platinum is just the opposite.

When you choose look not only at cost but also at doctors in the network.

The figure is over the next three years 1.1 million New Yorkers will sign up for health care through the marketplace. Of them, 85 percent will be eligible for tax credits.

Business owners can also get insurance information through the call center. The ACA does not require employers with fewer than 50 employees to provide insurance, but if they do:

“Actually many small businesses qualify for tax credits. If you have a small business where you're employees make moderate wages and you help pay for the coverage the government will help pay for their coverage,” says Richard Kirsch of NYPIRG.

Companies with more than 50 employees won't have to start providing insurance until 2015.

For more information on the Affordable Care Act, you can click here.

You can also visit the New York State of Health website by clicking here.