Open enrollment for NY State of Health, the State’s new health plan marketplace, has begun! New York’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are ready to assist. They have long been preparing, supported by funds awarded earlier this year by President Obama’s administration, to hire new staff and implement new programs in order to provide personalized enrollment assistance to the nearly 1.1 million New Yorkers expected to seek coverage through the marketplace.
According to a recent national survey by the Commonwealth Fund, fewer than half of U.S. adults ages 19 to 64 are aware of the existence of state insurance marketplaces or know that they might be eligible for financial help. Many of these individuals have had difficulty finding coverage in the past, are worried about the associated costs, and find it challenging to understand which benefits the various insurance plans will cover. As trusted community providers with a long history of offering enrollment assistance services to their patients, FQHCs are on the frontlines of the national effort to educate newly-eligible individuals about the benefits available to them and help them to take advantage of this life-changing opportunity.
The critical building blocks for healthier communities must include both health insurance coverage and access to primary and preventive health care services through a medical home. Successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act will require expanded primary care capacity both to care for the influx of newly-insured people and to ensure a strong safety net for those who remain uninsured as coverage expands. The federal law recognizes this and makes health centers a cornerstone of its plan for expanding access to health care, providing funding that will help New York to reach the goal of doubling its FQHC capacity by 2015 and enabling health centers to ramp up their outreach and enrollment capabilities.
CHCANYS looks forward to partnering with FQHCs and the NY State of Health on the critically-important mission to ensure that New Yorkers understand the new coverage options available to them and are able to access affordable, high-quality primary and preventive health care.