As a “facilitated enrollment service” provider for the state of New York, the 24-member Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council in Hauppauge has been working to help enroll uninsured Long Island residents in state-run public health insurance programs for more than 15 years.
Its expertise made the council a natural candidate to become a navigator under the Health Insurance Marketplace or exchanges created under the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“We’ve been around for a long time,” says Stacy Villagran, the council’s senior director of health insurance programs. “People know us as the place to go for health insurance enrollment assistance.”
She leads a team of four full-time navigators who for the third consecutive enrollment season will assist Long Islanders with applications for insurance coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange.
The council has helped more than 6,000 people apply for marketplace coverage. Some 10% of Nassau County residents still are uninsured, and 11% of Nassau County residents remain uninsured.
The current open enrollment season runs from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31. Villagran says the council’s navigators will to stick to what’s worked in the past: open houses for clients at public libraries, churches and civic centers, at member hospitals and council headquarters.
“People tend to use the hospital as their location for enrollment,” she says. “The hospital is in their community. It’s where they live.”
Long Island residents account for 12% of all New Yorkers who so far have enrolled in the state’s health exchange for coverage, according to the state public health department.
Under the ACA, the marketplaces or exchanges were formed to sell insurance to people who do not have access to affordable health care coverage through a job. The law also created government subsidies to help people pay for these plans.
In 38 states, consumers will rely on HealthCare.gov, the health insurance exchange operated by the federal government. The remaining states, like New York, have created their own exchanges.
Villagran believes the state’s enrollment efforts will get a boost from its new Basic Health Program, dubbed the “Essential Plan.” It’s a low-cost, low co-pay health insurance plan for low-income earners in New York. The Essential Plan offers 10 health benefits for less than $20 a month.
“It’s going to be a game changer,” Villagran says. “The Essential Plan will make a lot of those people who are curious about [health insurance coverage] actually sign up.”
The AHA’s “Get Enrolled” page has links to an extensive collection of AHA, national and state-specific resources to support your hospital’s enrollment effort.