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Long Island

Low-income NYers benefit most from state health-care market

Low-income New Yorkers are the biggest beneficiaries of the state’s health insurance marketplace, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Health.

So far, more than 2.7 million people are enrolled in health insurance through NY State of Health, the state said in a news release Monday. That includes 1.9 million enrolled in Medicaid, government-sponsored health insurance for low-income people. An additional 356,000 people have enrolled in the Essential Plan, a new option for lower-income New Yorkers who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, and 210,000 have enrolled in Child Health Plus, insurance for low-income children whose parents don’t qualify for Medicaid. A total of 260,000 people have enrolled in a qualified health plan sold on the marketplace.

The deadline to sign up for 2016 coverage is Sunday.

The purpose of the Essential Plan, unveiled this fall, was to capture those people who didn’t qualify for Medicaid but might have decided not to buy health insurance because it was still too expensive — even with a federal subsidy — or who struggled to pay their monthly premiums and deductibles. To qualify for the Essential Plan, a single person must make an annual salary of no more than $23,540 and a family of four no more than $48,500. It also includes low-income immigrants who have been in the United States legally for less than five years and are ineligible for federal Medicaid.

By contrast, a single person on Medicaid can make no more than $16,242 a year or a family of four, $33,465. To qualify for Child Health Plus, a family of four can make up to $97,000 annually, with a sliding scale of premiums and no copays.

Those on Medicaid pay no deductibles or premiums, while premiums for the Essential Plan are between $0 and $20 per adult a month with no deductibles.

Applicants on Long Island don’t appear vastly different from those statewide. Stacy Villagran, in charge of enrollment at Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, a state-designated “navigator” agency to help sign up people on the exchange, said so far 36 percent of their applicants have taken an Essential Plan, 33 percent have gone on Medicaid, 8 percent on Child Health Plus, and the rest have signed up with a qualified health plan.

She said 63 percent of applicants are “brand new.”

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