More New Yorkers becoming eligible for Medicaid

Surprise! More New Yorkers will be eligible for Medicaid next year, as the state changes the qualifying standard. Some are finding out, as they apply for health insurance

New Yorkers are having an easier time of it than much of the country, signing up for health insurance, but there have been some surprises.

The state website, had a rocky start, but it appears to be a lot easier to access, than the federal Affordable Healthcare website.

Sara Wall Bollinger, Executive Director of Health Planning for HealtheConnections, and Onondaga County's main Health Navigator, says after the first day's crash, more capacity was added, and the website is tweaked and upgraded every weekend, based on complaints and concerns to the toll-free call center: 1-855-355-5777.

One 'discovery' is that a lot more New Yorkers will be eligible for Medicaid, starting January 1st. That's because NY is expanding eligibility, to incomes up to 138% of the poverty line (that's $15,856 for one person, add $5,548 for each additional person in a household)

People who try to buy insurance, but will be Medicaid-eligible, are getting notices that they cannot do it now, but will get notices by mid December of when they can sign up, and that's frustrating to some.

Wall Bollinger says it's because insurance companies have not put together the proposals for Medicaid-eligible yet (their deadline was later than the start of the healthcare signup.) Insurers we talked with say it's not unusual for rates to be updated so close to deadlines. December 15 is the signup deadline for coverage to begin January 1, 2014.

On Monday morning, there had been 921,940 unique visits to New York's signup website, with 2.12 million total visits. There's no word on how many signups so far, but they expect about a million.

Stacy Sturdevant, a Navigator who works thru the Salvation Army, says most of the people who've come to her for signup help (navigators we talked to are booked into November) says most are early retirees or small business owners or employees who do not have insurance now. Wall Bollinger says they're also doing outreach, to encourage more people in these categories to check the website for affordable insurance.

To reach a navigator in Onondaga County: 315-470-1847.