New York Health Exchange Reports 257,000 Applying

ALBANY (AP) -

More than 257,000 New Yorkers have completed applications to join the state’s new health exchange, and more than 76,000 have enrolled so far in insurance plans or Medicaid, according to the state Health Department.

Established under the federal Affordable Care Act, the exchange is expected to extend health coverage over the next three years to 1.1 million of New York’s 2.7 million uninsured. Another 500,000 people who are eligible are expected to sign up for the Medicaid program with government-funded health care.

“We’re on track with projections at this point,” Health Department spokesman Bill Schwarz said Wednesday. The exchange, called NY State of Health, has begun posting its completed application and enrollment data on its home page and plans weekly updates.

So far, there have been 35,000 enrollments in Medicaid and 41,000 in one of the plans offered by 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers and 10 dental insurers that chose to participate in the online exchange.

It was overwhelmed by visitor “hits” the first few days after its Oct. 1 opening, but within days quadrupled its capacity and has operated the past two months with few reported problems, unlike the related national Obamacare exchange.

The exchange has one marketplace for individuals and another for small businesses. New Yorkers have until March 31 to enroll. To be covered by Jan. 1, they have to enroll by Dec. 15.

The state’s Department of Financial Services in July approved the exchange insurers’ rates for 2014. The agency said that on average they were 53 percent lower than last year’s rates for individual insurance.

A recent analysis estimated that 779,000 New Yorkers will be eligible for federal tax credits to offset the cost of insurance. They have to earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, meaning less than $94,200 for a family of four, and be ineligible for Medicaid, Medicare or affordable employer coverage.