Half million New Yorkers got health insurance this year

Some 2.1 million have enrolled to date, but the popularity of private insurance ebbs

By IRINA IVANOVA, FEB. 18, 2015 at 3:15 PM

More than 550,000 New Yorkers signed up for health insurance in the three-month open-enrollment period that ended Feb. 15, bringing the total number of enrolled New Yorkers to 2.1 million since the Obamacare exchange launched in late 2013. About 88% were not insured at the time they signed up.
Donna Frescatore, executive director of New York State of Health, the insurance marketplace, said the state was still “right on target with the projections, and we'll have a robust plan during the next open-enrollment period to increase that rate even more.�

“This is about the stability of the enrollment base,� she said.

The number of people signing up for private health insurance, however, slowed dramatically since the previous enrollment period, with only 137,000 enrolling in private health plans this period—far less than the 350,000 new sign-ups Ms. Frescatore had predicted late last year.

About 615,000 New Yorkers are expected to sign up for private insurance by the end of 2016.
This year's figures could still increase. People who started the sign-up process before Feb. 15 but didn't finish will be able to enroll until the end of the month.

“Based on the last-minute interest and appointments scheduled, it's reasonable to think sign-ups will increase,� said Ms. Frescatore. “At our most recent events we had people approach us who said they recently learned about a tax penalty they had, and who made appointments� to enroll, she added.

The state also is considering holding a special enrollment period for New Yorkers who are facing tax penalties for not having insurance.

Consumers who enrolled last year are largely staying on the exchange, with about 87% renewing their coverage, according to Ms. Frescatore. New York State of Health will release a detailed report on private-insurance enrollment and renewals in early March.