Posted at: 10/17/2013 7:15 PM
| Updated at: 10/17/2013 8:10 PM
By: Steve Flamisch
ALBANY -- When Rick Bedrosian hit a snag with New York's online health plan marketplace, he asked a navigator to help guide him through the enrollment process.
They ended-up meeting at McDonald's, 1006 Central Ave., where the navigator used the restaurant's free WiFi service to access the internet. Bedrosian selected a health insurance plan while another patron's children frolicked inside the PlayPlace a few feet away.
"The weirdness of it did occur to me several times but I was so relieved to have this expert there guiding me through this at no cost," Bedrosian, of Delmar, said. "I overcame the feeling of absurdity and was able to kind of move on."
Bedrosian is one of about 124,000 New Yorkers who have signed up for an account, according to Sherry Tomasky, Director of Outreach for New York State of Health.
That number is higher than what state officials were expecting at this point, a little more than two weeks into the open enrollment process, Tomasky said.
"Our marketplace expects to enroll about 1.1 million people in coverage over the next two-and-a-half years," she said. "We projected a bit lower than this at this point in time, but we're thrilled that this many New Yorkers have completed the process."
Before signing up, Bedrosian -- a member of the local bands Hair of the Dog, Hey Jude, and the McKrells -- was admittedly skeptical of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
He ended up finding a plan with better coverage and a lower premium than his previous insurance coverage offered, though he said that has not been the case for everyone he knows.
"Other people have told me they shopped and it's been way more expensive for them," Bedrosian said.
The rates are based on personal income, Tomasky said. Additionally, some people qualify for subsidized health insurance coverage -- in which the government pays a portion of the premium -- while others do not.
Medicare benefits are unaffected by the changes to the law, she said. Medcaid will expand to include an additional 75,000 people in January.
Open enrollment continues through March 31, 2014. Navigators are reachable at https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/