Stana Nakhle, regional director of New York State of Health, the state’s health care marketplace exchange, delved into how individuals and small businesses can apply for health insurance.
Individuals who are not eligible for Medicaid, and are between the ages of 18 and 65, can apply for the Essential Plan, which, depending on income, would only cost up to $20 a month. So far, more than 665,000 New Yorkers have already enrolled.
Other New Yorkers signing up for a health care plan can choose among one of four tiers of plans: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Platinum offers the most comprehensive coverage for those who need more care, while Bronze plans cost less per month.
People can sign up for health insurance in person with a counselor, over the phone with a customer service center, or online.
Small businesses in New York can also sign up for health insurance plans for the company. Smaller employers, with fewer than 50 employees, are not required to offer health coverage, but those with more than 50 or more must offer insurance.
Nakhle laid out the advantages of small businesses signing up for health insurance through NY State of Health, including having choices based on region, administrative simplicity, available tax credits. and a variety of contribution options.
Since the health care exchange opened in 2013, 4 million New Yorkers have gained insurance, she said. The uninsured rate in New York City went down from 13 percent to 7.7 percent in 2016. Queens in particular had the largest gain of insured individuals, with 157,000 more residents covered.
The current enrollment period runs from now until January 31.
“This is the important time in the year when people can enroll in a plan,” Nakhle said.
The next presenter at the summit was Neil Gilberg, business advocate with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. Appointed in 2008, Gilberg assists business owners with understanding the rules and regulations about the state’s workers’ compensation laws.
“We’re there to assist you,” he said. “All I do is help people all day long.”
He started off by noting that workers’ compensation covers on-the-job accidents and injuries, including wages, while disability covers off-the-job incidents.
Gilberg explained a host of criteria about who needs coverage for workers’ compensation, which includes family members, domestic workers and even student interns.
While independent contractors do not need coverage, he said there are 10 requirements that a worker meets to be considered a contractor, so employers should be careful about that designation.
The premiums for the coverage are based on how dangerous a job is. To keep costs low, Gilberg recommended shopping around for different plans.
The penalty for not offering workers’ compensation can be quite severe: up to $2,000 for every 10 days out of compliance or $72,000 per year. Gilberg noted there is an appeals process as well.
“The goal is compliance,” he said. “We don’t want to take your money.”