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Help on Health Insurance as Open Enrollment Period Begins

Central New Yorkers who might be in need of health insurance can enroll in the state’s health exchange starting Thursday.  ACR Health stands ready to help with 21 staff members in 9 different counties.

Director of Insurance Programs Steve Wood urges people to come in and get insurance.

“…and some people are shocked to find out that they have free insurance, or that their insurance is only going to be $20.  People are shocked by that, and that’s good.  They leave happy about it.  If people are concerned about the coverage they get because their doctor may not take it or it may have a higher deductible, there are things that we talk about.  Why do you have insurance?  If there’s an accident, if something catastrophic happens, this is going to be a safety net for you.”

  • Navigators provide free, on-site assistance with enrollment into the NYS of Health Marketplace.  Program eligibility includes Medicaid, Child Health Plus, Essential Plan and Qualified Health Plans.
  • Aged, Blind and Disabled Programs offer Facilitated Enrollment for individuals over 65, disabled or blind and have Medicare A & B. 
  • HIV Uninsured Care Programs provide enrollment assistance for HIV+ individuals into ADAP (drug coverage), APIC (Premium Assistance) and HIV Home Care.
  • Community Health Advocates provide Health Insurance Advocacy for prescription assistance, financial aid, medical bills, authorization denials, out-of-network coverage, etc.

ACR Health also wants to clear up confusion regarding the coverage of pre-existing medical conditions. A person can’t be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition anymore. ACR Health Executive Director Wil Murtaugh says he’s never seen anything transform their clients as getting them health insurance.
“They can come in to us today and receive Medicaid or insurance within 30-40 minutes and walk in and see their doctor tomorrow.”

Ryann Nolan, a client, found the enrollment process was simple and easy.

“I have some pre-existing conditions and that was important for me to be able to stick with those doctors.  Going to a new doctor and starting that whole history and patient history is kind of a pain.  It really put my mind at ease.”

The program has insured 50,000 New Yorkers in the past five years through their free enrollment process. Open Enrollment begins November 1 and goes through January 31, an extension from the federal enrollment period.  Health navigators and assistance with most medical issues are at ACR Health.

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.