New York Medicaid & Obamacare Roll Out

Anyone who has watched a nightly news broadcast or browsed a new website likely heard this month about the roll-out of Obamacare (the colloquial name for the large-scale healthcare overhaul known as the Affordable Care Act). In the past we discussed the way that the new law offers additional opportunities with expanded Medicaid services.

Most recent discussion relates to problems with the website created to allow consumers to purchase new insurance via health care exchanges. Luckily, New York essentially had its own separate sign-in system that was not plagued by the problems with the federal site which was used by those in states which had not set up their own programs.

Beyond the technical issue, how has everything worked out thus far in New York?

Recent Growth of NY Medicaid
It is only this month that residents were able to begin using healthcare exchanges and purchasing health insurance. The program allows residents either to buy private insurance (16 different companies are participating in our state) or, if they qualify, enroll in Medicaid. Thus far, the main effect of Obamacare in New York is the rise in Medicaid enrollments.

As summarized last week in a helpful Albany Business Journal story, so far well over 30,000 New Yorkers have signed up for insurance via the exchange already. That represents just the first step in what policymakers hope is meeting the ambitious goal of 1.1 million New York residents enrolled within three years.

Of those who have searched for insurance, many discovered that their income and situation qualifies them for participation in Medicaid. In fact, a clear majority of those using the exchanges thus far have opted for Medicaid. Only about one-third of initial enrollees purchased private insurance–the other two-thirds were added to the Medicaid docket. Keep in mind that New York already boasted the nation’s largest Medicaid program, with expansive coverage that now includes about 25% of all residents. Our yearly spending on the program is double the national average.

This large filtering to Medicaid was not unexpected. Local officials point out that they projected this shift, particularly near the beginning of the enrollment period. To account for the change, the state budget allows for higher federal reimbursement rates to cover the rise in enrollees.

Medicaid remains a critical support service for elderly New Yorkers who need assistance with long-term care needs. To understand how to apply under today’s rules (and how to protect assets from being spent down), please contact our NY elder law team today.

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