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Syracuse, New York State Gear Up for Second Round of ACA Enrollment

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John Smith/WAER News
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  Obama care goes into its second enrollment period beginning this Saturday, and one local organization aims to make that process faster and easier.

A-C-R Health opened a new office in Syracuse to assist residents with signing up for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act.

Assistant Director of Insurance Services Steve Wood, says about 50% of people who sign up, enroll online by themselves, but they do not complete the application correctly. He says that's where A-C-R Health can help. 

“We know the system.  We know how to apply the tax credits, the cost-sharing reductions.  We know the plans.  We know the right questions to move people through.”

Wood says because they have worked with the system for so long they are familiar with health plans, to help community members avoid mistakes.  Last year A-C-R Health assisted over 8000 people and 6000 of them now have health insurance.  It takes up to 20 minutes for them to assist one person with the sign up process and about an hour for the a whole family.

2014 ENROLLEE RECOMMENDS PEOPLE TO GET INSURED

A-C-R Health helped Jude Swift who was uninsured for 3 years after losing her job.

“I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and my prescription is $2000 a month so obviously I would not be able to do that without this help.  I would not have a life because it really is a very debilitating disease.  So it gave me my life back and because of the help I got, I can live again.  It’s amazing.”

The insurance assistance service is free and will begin this Saturday. A-C-R Health's new location is at 835 W. Genesee Street.

PREPARATIONS ALSO UNDERWAY AT THE NEW YORK HEALTH EXCHANGE

New York’s health exchange is trying to put to use some lessons-learned from last year when it gears up for this year’s Affordable Care Act enrollment.  People without insurance have another chance to purchase coverage through the New York State of Health marketplace starting November 15th.  Executive Director Donna Frescatore (FRESS-ca-tor) is encouraging people to sign up, based on the satisfaction of those who did so last year.

“92 % of people who responded to the survey said they were completely or somewhat satisfied with their healthcare coverage.  About 91 % said they now have new peace-of-mind.  And 92 %, very important I think, feel somewhat or more confident that they will be able to get care when it’s needed and that’s what this is really all about.  It’s about the peace-of-mind and the ability to get needed  medical care and preventative care for New Yorkers.”

About 4-out of-5 of those people were uninsured before signing up.  Frescatore expects about 350-thousand more to utilize the health exchange this year.  She says they’ve put on more operators, over 800 – as well as trained about nine-thousand agents and patient navigators to help things go smoothly.  Just today a Spanish language version of the website went online…and there’s assistance for people in many other languages as well.  The health exchange is at NYStateofHealth.NY.Gov

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.