Westchester & Otsego Counties Healthy NY Expansion Demonstration
Expanding Health Care Coverage
November 15, 2007
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In 2001, New York State created the Healthy NY program, which was designed to offer a basic health insurance product for small businesses (two to 50 employees), sole proprietors, and individuals at an affordable price. However, Healthy NY has not achieved its potential enrollment and most notably lacks enrollment among sole proprietors. The New York Health Plan Association Council (HPA) sought to increase enrollment in Healthy NY among sole proprietors in Westchester and Otsego Counties by partnering with the Business Council of Westchester and Otsego County Chamber of Commerce to educate brokers about Healthy NY benefits, eligibility requirements, and enrollment process. One-time enrollment incentives of $50, and later $100, proved too limited to encourage many brokers to enroll sole proprietors in Healthy NY. The project aimed to increase enrollment by 500 sole proprietors over a 12-month period, and ultimately enrolled 75.
Sole proprietors encounter even more obstacles accessing health insurance than do small businesses, having only limited and costly commercial health insurance options. The New York Health Plan Association Council (HPA) plans to expand the reach of Healthy NY in this market.
While Healthy NY was designed to offer a viable health insurance option to sole proprietors, the share of sole proprietors enrolled in the program has declined over the past five years. In 2001, sole proprietors constituted 28% of Healthy NY enrollment; in 2006, they represented only 17%.
HPA, in partnership with the Business Council of Westchester and the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, will work to increase sole proprietors’ enrollment in Healthy NY by educating, training, and compensating brokers for enrolling sole proprietors in the program. Specific plans include developing and distributing county-specific Healthy NY materials to sole proprietors with the help of Chamber partners, conducting Chamber educational seminars to promote the program, training brokers in both counties on the program, and providing them with a $50 incentive for each successful sole proprietor enrollment. With adequate information and incentives, enrollment of this difficult target population will be expanded significantly. The Council and its partners estimate a minimum 50% increase in Healthy NY enrollment in Westchester and Otsego Counties.