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Extended enrollment deadline keeps State health navigators busy

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St Joseph's Neighborhood Center, Rochester
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A month into the state’s second health insurance open enrollment period, officials say the state is on-track to getting more New Yorkers insured. WXXI’s Michelle Faust spoke with Elisabeth Benjamin, the Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society—a key navigator agency in New York State.

The state health department announced more than 154 thousand previously uninsured New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance since open enrollment began on November 15th.

Benjamin says her agency has experienced a high volume of requests for assistance enrolling in the state exchange, despite early speculation that it would be more difficult to reach uninsured people this year.

“Everybody's getting more confident in the website and the idea of enhanced penalties is finally kicking in for folks.”

According to Benjamin, the state’s decision to extend the deadline to enroll for insurance that begins the first of the year has helped.

“We are just getting overwhelmed with calls and email requests for appointments. It seems that a lot of people are going to take advantage of that extra 5 days that New York State was so great to go out and get permission to grant New Yorkers.”

Open enrollment runs until February 15th. 

Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with the health collaborative Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.
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