By Jann Wiswall
It is not too late to enroll for health insurance coverage through New York State for 2014.
Sign up by Jan. 15 for coverage starting Feb. 1.
Sign up by Feb. 15 for coverage beginning March 1.
Sign up by March 15 for coverage on April 1.
Sign up between March 16 and March 31 for coverage by May 1.
And, if you miss those deadlines, open enrollment for 2015 begins on Oct. 1.
To get started, visit www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov where you can look at your options, determine if you’re eligible for financial assistance and enroll. As of Dec. 30, some 481,000 New Yorkers had applied for coverage, and nearly 242,000 people from across the state had successfully enrolled for coverage beginning Jan. 1.
But there are still about 2.2 million New Yorkers who do not have health insurance, according to the Urban Institute, and about half are expected to buy insurance through the new marketplace by 2016.
Despite the relative ease of the NY State of Health website — it’s one of the two most successful state sites in the nation — many people still are having trouble getting through the process simply because buying health insurance can be confusing.
If you’re intimidated by it all, you’re in luck. Cattaraugus County residents have an invaluable resource in Healthy Community Alliance (HCA).
HCA is running a “facilitated enrollment” program that is free to use and can be accessed near where you live. The program offers in-person help using highly trained navigators who are familiar with every inch of the NYSH website and its offerings.
Navigators will sit down with you at one of 31 sites around the county to walk you through the process, explain anything you don’t understand, find the best plan that meets your unique needs and identify any tax credits or discounts to which you may be entitled. They’re also available by phone to answer your questions.
So whether you’re completely new to buying insurance, uncomfortable with online shopping and computers or just find yourself stuck at some point in the application process, navigators are available to help from start to finish or anywhere in between.
To schedule an appointment with a navigator or to learn more, call the Healthy Community Alliance at (716) 532-1010 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.