MAYVILLE - Almost 5,000 Chautauqua County residents have enrolled for health insurance since the rollout of the health insurance marketplace nearly 10 months ago.
Open enrollment, which began on Oct. 1, 2013, offered Chautauqua County residents five insurance companies to choose from in addition to Medicaid and Child Health Plus, which are both state-funded, low-cost options.
According to a June report from NY State of Health, 40 percent of Chautauqua County's 4,872 enrollees applied for a qualified health plan through one of five companies, including BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Fidelis Care, Health Republic Insurance of New York, Independent Health and Univera Healthcare.
Health Republic Insurance of New York was the top choice for 52 percent of Chautauqua County applicants, with an almost even distribution amongst the other companies.
Medicaid applicants accounted for 54.8 percent of health plan enrollees, which was higher than numbers for both Erie and Cattaraugus County Medicaid applicants.
"The Affordable Care Act has many good theories and attributes," said Betsy Wright, WCA Hospital president, adding that it expands coverage for Americans, eliminates denying insurance to those with preexisting conditions and improves information about health insurance.
"But there are many challenges," Wright said.
For hospitals, reimbursement rates have been cut.
Wright said hospitals like WCA, which provide a fairly high percentage of care to Medicaid beneficiaries, have traditionally been given share dollars from state and federal government for charity care.
"They have already been cutting these funds for two years," Wright said, adding that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's health exchange would help those who are uninsured gain access to health insurance. "We will see that impact moving forward."
In line with Wright's comment, the Marketplace determined 81 percent of New York state enrollees did not have health insurance at the time they applied.
Cattaraugus County's nearly 3,000 enrollees also had five insurance companies to choose from, resulting in 62 percent choosing Fidelis Care.
In terms of those approved for Medicaid, Cattaraugus County's numbers were less than Chautauqua and Erie counties at 51 percent.
The Small Business Marketplace also opened enrollment on Oct. 1, 2013.
In Chautauqua County, 180 residents employed by small businesses of 50 workers or less enrolled for insurance from Independent Health, Health Republic Insurance of New York or Univera.
Cattaraugus County saw 33 employees enroll for coverage through the Small Business Marketplace.
Statewide, 9,787 employees enrolled for coverage.
Nearly 74 percent of consumers who enrolled in marketplace coverage from Oct. 1 through March 30, enrolled after Jan. 1. Just over 36 percent waited until March, with more than 38,000 consumers waiting until the last day.
Statewide, 55 percent of enrollees were approved for Medicaid, or 525,283 applicants.
Full implementation of the Affordable Care Act is assumed to take place by the end of 2016 and has been heavily discussed since it was enacted in 2010.
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