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Medicaid is choice for most health insurance enrollees in NY

More than 2.8 million New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance on the state’s exchange, more than two-thirds of them on Medicaid, according to the state Department of Health.

As of Jan. 31, the end of the 2016 sign-up period, total enrollment was 2,833,823, the health department said in a news release on Tuesday. Of that, 1,966,920 qualified for Medicaid, health insurance for low income people.

More people also signed up for the state’s new Essential Plan — a cheaper option for lower-income New Yorkers who make too much to qualify for Medicaid — than for a qualified health plan: 379,559 versus 271,964. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 160,000 of those in the Essential Plan were enrolled in qualified health plans last year.

Another 215,380 have enrolled in Child Health Plus, insurance for low-income children whose parents don’t qualify for Medicaid.

“We have made great strides in reducing New York’s uninsured rate,” Donna Frescatore, NY State of Health’s executive director, said in a statement. “The new Essential Plan for 2016 has helped bridge the gap for lower income individuals and families allowing many New Yorkers, including young adults, to get affordable health coverage through the marketplace.”

Since the exchange opened in 2013, the number of uninsured New Yorkers has declined by nearly 850,000, the department said.

Nationwide about 12.7 million people signed up for insurance for 2016, about 9.6 million through HealthCare.gov, according to HHS. About 4 million of those were new consumers, the department said.

The rates of uninsured have dropped nationally, according to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Looking at 37 states — including New York — from January to September 2015, the report found 28.8 million people, or 9.1 percent, were uninsured. That is 7.2 million fewer than in 2104, and 16 million fewer than in 2013, when the exchange first opened.

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