As the state's health insurance enrollment process begins, officials are warning New Yorkers to beware of scams that ask for money or personal information, and they encourage people to contact state agencies if they have questions.
Long Island nonprofits that help people enroll in Medicaid and the state's health insurance marketplace said they, too, stand ready to help residents with enrollment or questions, without imposing a fee.
New Yorkers once again have to re-enroll in health insurance plans to ensure continuing coverage, now that pandemic-era continuous coverage rules have expired, state Attorney General Letitia James and state Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said in a statement this week. As a result, New York has resumed reviewing and renewing eligibility for those enrolled in public health programs.
The enrollment process began Thursday and must be completed by Dec. 15.
"The NY State of Health, New York’s Health Plan Marketplace, offers one-stop health insurance shopping for both public health programs (Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan) and commercial health insurance (Qualified Health Plans)," they said, adding, "Health insurance scams regarding these renewals are increasing."
A spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office acknowledged that complaints have been received but did not say how many.
James and McDonald cautioned New Yorkers about scammers who call, text or email, pretending to be from the NY State of Health or other state agencies.
Some of the scams involve threatening people that their Medicaid or other health coverage was at risk of cancellation, or that they have already lost coverage unless they pay hundreds of dollars to reinstate it, they said.
Other methods involve phishing scams that seek people's personal information by offering gift cards or money to "update" their health accounts.
James and McDonald said New York agencies that administer Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Essential Plan benefits "will never charge or ask for money from consumers to enroll or re-enroll. They will also not offer New Yorkers rewards to renew their coverage."
"Many people are available to help you renew for free," they said.
To learn about enrolling or renewing commercial Qualified Health Plan coverage for 2024, visit the NY State of Health website.
For more information or guidance, visit the NY State of Health website or call 855-355-5777.
James and McDonald said those enrolled in Medicaid either through their county's Medicaid office or New York City’s Human Resources Administration also can get help for free. "Contact the office where you enrolled to ask questions and get help with renewing insurance," they said.
The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island and the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council are among nonprofits that help Long Islanders enroll in Medicaid and the state health insurance marketplace, officials said.
"We are not hearing any major increase in scams here on Long Island at the moment," said Rebecca Sanin, president and chief executive of the Health and Welfare council. "But we know that there are scams that are taking place to exploit our most vulnerable residents all of the time," which she said are most often seniors.
"It's important that people know that if they are enrolling in Medicaid and the marketplace that they can get assistance from the Health and Welfare Council and other local nonprofits to navigate through the process."
Those interested can contact the council's health care assistance line at 516-505-4426, Sanin said.
Janine Logan, spokeswoman for the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, said the nonprofit has an enrollment assistance program, which can be accessed through its website, or by calling 631-435-3000.
"We’ve done a lot of community outreach to reach individuals so that they don’t lose coverage. We're here to help," Logan said.