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More than 40,000 eligible for NY State of Health

On day one of the launch of affordable

On day one of the launch of affordable healthcare options on-line, the NY State of Health website had over 2 million visits in the first 2 hours. (Oct. 1, 2013)

More than 40,000 people have already been deemed eligible for New York's health insurance exchange since it opened a week ago, more than any other state so far, state health officials said yesterday.

"This fast pace of sign-ups shows that New York State's exchange is working smoothly, with an overwhelming response from New Yorkers," said Donna Frescatore, executive director of NY State of Health.

NY State of Health is the state's online insurance marketplace for individuals, families and businesses with 50 or fewer employees, as part of the federal Affordable Care Act. The exchange allows consumers to choose from private insurance plans. Consumers must enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage that begins Jan. 1 but have until March 31 to buy insurance for next year.

The exchange got off to a bumpy start when it opened Oct. 1, with many people unable to get on the website because of high traffic. Frescatore said technicians "continue to make daily enhancements to increase performance."

State-designated navigators helping people sign on said the system has improved daily.

Speaking of the five navigators at the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, Stacy Villagran, director of grants administration, said: "Once they got through, they said, 'Oh my God, this is easy.' "

Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York, agreed. "The glitches are quickly going away and the feedback looping with the state is definitely better," she said. Community Service Society, of Manhattan, has 10 navigators on Long Island.

But insurance broker Eileen Falk of Baranello Associates in Great Neck was still having trouble Tuesday. She said she has gotten lots of calls from individuals and small businesses but hasn't been able to log in.

"It's so frustrating," she said. "Every day I'm getting the same story."

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