Fourteen percent of Long Islanders signed up for health insurance on the state's exchange, a figure that mirrors New York's population under 65, according to a state report released Wednesday.
But more Long Islanders enrolled in a private plan than the statewide average, and fewer qualified for Medicaid, government insurance for low-wage earners.
"The cost of living is much higher on Long Island and therefore salaries are higher, so we have more who would qualify for a [private] health plan as opposed to Medicaid," said Janine Logan, a spokeswoman for the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, one of the lead agencies that helped enroll Long Islanders.
In the 45-page report released by the NY State of Health insurance marketplace, a total of 137,806 Long Islanders enrolled for individual health insurance on the exchange between Oct. 1, 2013, and April 15.
Statewide, 960,762 people enrolled in NY State of Health -- a number that showed that the first year of the exchange was a "tremendous success," said Donna Frescatore, its executive director.
"The year one results show strong activity throughout the state and across many important measures, such as age, prior insurance status, affordability and health plan options," she said in a statement.
A report by the Urban Institute, a policy research group, projected that of the 2.5 million uninsured New Yorkers, about 1.1 million -- including about 150,000 of more than 272,000 uninsured Long Islanders -- were expected to enroll over a three-year period.
The report found that 81 percent of those who enrolled said they did not have insurance when they applied. Of those who selected a private health plan, 31 percent were between 18 and 34 -- the so-called "young invincibles" health officials hoped to attract because they tend to be healthier, help spread the risk and keep premiums lower.
Statewide, 55 percent of enrollees were eligible for Medicaid, 7 percent were enrolled in the state's Child Health Plus health insurance, and 38 percent enrolled in private health plans. Of those 38 percent, about three-quarters are receiving government subsidies.
On Long Island, the percentages were almost reversed. In Nassau, 52 percent of the 62,091 who signed up for insurance on the exchange enrolled in a private health plan, while 38 percent qualified for Medicaid and the rest for Child Health Plus.
In Suffolk, 49.45 percent of the 75,715 enrolled on the exchange signed up for a private plan, while 40.5 percent qualified for Medicaid and the rest for Child Health Plus.
The report said that 3,106 small businesses offered their employees insurance statewide in SHOP, the marketplace for businesses with 50 or fewer workers. Long Island accounted for 16 percent of employers in SHOP and 14 percent of employees -- the lowest percentage of all the regions in the state.
Neil Weingarten, vice president of Conference Associates in Patchogue, group insurance administrators, said the numbers might be too small to draw any conclusions. In Nassau, 584 employers signed up; in Suffolk, 804.
But he also said that -- again -- because of Long Island's relatively high cost of living, many small employers would not qualify for government tax credits and would have less incentive to use the exchange. What's more, many downstate employers typically buy their insurance with brokers, he said.