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NY State of Health site gets over 2 million hits in first two hours to begin open-enrollment period

SYRACUSE — The staff at NY State of Health, New York’s health-insurance exchange, reported “over two million hits” before 10 a.m. Tuesday morning to begin the open-enrollment period under the federal health-care reform law.

That’s according to Courtney Burke, New York’s deputy secretary for health, who spoke today at the Syracuse Community Health Center at 819 S. Salina St.

“This morning I talked with the staff at the health-insurance exchange … and they said that we had had over two million hits already this morning on the website, which is probably more than we had even anticipated when we were thinking about numbers overall,” Burke said.


The early demand led to technical issues at the health-exchange website. The organization offered apologies to users through its Twitter account and notified its website users that it was having technical issues.

“Due to overwhelming interest in the NY State of Health, including two million visits in the first two hours of the site launch, the health exchange is currently having log in issues. We encourage users who are unable to log in to come back to the site later when these issues will be resolved,” the website said on its homepage, as of 1:25 p.m. this afternoon.

In her remarks this morning, Burke also noted the potential interest in Central New York.

In the Syracuse–Finger Lakes region, it’s estimated about 300,000 people could qualify for health insurance through NY State of Health, Burke said.

Of those 300,000 people, about 75 percent could potentially qualify for some type of subsidy or other cost-sharing arrangement, she added.

“So, there are a lot of people in this region who can benefit from this [exchange],” Burke said.

The number to reach the health-insurance exchange is 1-855-355-5777, she said, noting information about the exchange is available at the Syracuse Community Health Center.

Burke also provided a quick demonstration of the website for NY State of Health, noting the site has information available for individuals and small businesses pursuing health-care coverage options.

The website includes an instructional video that “walks you through” the registration process, Burke said.

Of those 300,000 people in Central New York who could qualify, “about half of those people will be individuals who are newly insured and the other half will be small businesses,” Burke said.

To assist people as they pursue coverage, the New York State Department of Health and NY State of Health have set up a navigator program, a group of organizations with individuals trained on guiding people through the process.

In Onondaga County, HealtheConnections Health Planning is partnering with Benefit Specialists of NY, Inc., Northside Urban Partnership, the Salvation Army, and the South Side Innovation Center on the local navigator program.

Navigators from the Northeast Community Center and the Salvation Army attended today’s event at the Syracuse Community Health Center, according to Sara Wall Bollinger, executive director for health planning at HealtheConnections in Syracuse.

New Yorkers have until Dec. 15 to enroll to ensure health coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2014.


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