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Obamacare Options in Southern Tier

Written By: Tanja Rekhi
Obamacare Options in Southern Tier

CORNING (WENY) -- Just a few weeks are left for people who want to sign up to get health insurance by the beginning of the year through the Affordable Care Act. The idea behind the marketplace was to provide affordable options through competition among insurance providers; however, the competition isn't exactly fierce here in the Southern Tier.
     In Steuben County, there are three different insurance providers for individuals and two for small businesses.
     Schuyler County has three individual plans and  just one for small business owners.
     Chemung County has more people living in it, so there should be more competition, right? Wrong. Only two companies offer individual plans, and there's no choice or competition for small businesses, just one company available.
     Way up in Essex County, the population is less than half that of Chemung County and they have six options for individual plans and five for small businesses.
     I reached out to the Deputy Director, Danielle Holohan, of New York State of Health to find out why the competition's so slim. Holohan explained it's a combination of companies willing to do business in each county and whether they met state and federal standards.
     "Any health plan that met our criteria is now offered in the marketplace. It definitely does vary by county. We didn't require health plans to participate on the marketplace, it was voluntary," said Holohan.
     Navigators at the AIM Independent Living center in Corning say people are generally pleased with their options.
     "I would hate for someone not to go out and explore their options to see what's available and end up missing out on a more comprehensive coverage at a lower cost," said Katherine Anderson-Reynolds, Navigator Program Coordinator, AIM Independent Living.
      On December 5 there will be a public info session on navigating the Affordable Care Act in the Forum at Tompkins Cortland Community College from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
     Then next Wednesday, December 11 there Chemung County Chamber of Commerce will host a seminar on the Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance: What You Need to Know for Your Small Business at Steele Memorial Library from 9:00-10:30 a.m.
     You can schedule an appointment with a navigator to discuss your options at the AIM Independent Living Center at (888) 962-8244.