With a functioning exchange, New York advances on Obamacare sign-ups

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Dan Goldberg

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The state health department announced today that nearly 50,000 New Yorkers have enrolled in health insurance plans since Oct. 1, when the state's exchange opened in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.

That total is roughly equal to the number of people from all 36 states relying on the federal government's troubled website healthcare.gov who have so far been able to enroll, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, and signifies one of the few bright spots the Obama administration can point to in an otherwise troubled rollout.

New York's number is likely to increase significantly, since some 200,000 people have completed an application and have been determined eligible but have not yet picked a plan, according to the health department. 

Of the 48,162 newly insured New Yorkers, 23,653, or a little less than half, have been signed up for Medicaid. The rest have enrolled in private health insurance plans offered through the exchange. 

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The state trumpeted the numbers Tuesday afternoon in advance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' release of national numbers, which are expected to come in far lower than the Obama administration initially projected.

That will be due in large part to a botched rollout of the website many states were relying on to sign people up, and which has been the subject of multiple congressional hearings.

Governor Andrew Cuomo chose to have New York run its own exchange.

“We are very pleased to see these results, which show that tens of thousands of individuals across the state are turning to nystateofhealth.ny.gov to access low-cost health insurance," said Donna Frescatore, executive director of NY State of Health.

Nearly three-quarters of enrollees shopping on New York's individual health insurance market will have some portion of their premium paid by a federal subsidy.

Subsidies are available for individuals with incomes up to $45,960 and families of four with incomes up to $94,200.

Enrollment lasts through March 31. Insurance coverage begins on Jan. 1 for anyone who is enrolled by Dec. 15.