By Deanne Stewart and David Beltran
The government shutdown didn’t stop New Yorkers from flooding the state’s healthcare exchange website on Tuesday, the first day of enrollment for the Affordable Care Act.
Though the coverage doesn’t begin till January, the website had over two millions hits within the first 90 minutes of being up, said New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales at the Queens Central Library.
“It’s clearly there, people want the opportunity to get affordable healthcare and take advantage of it,” said Perales. “The fact that so many of them are trying today already, indicates that there is enormous interest.”
Perales and Department of Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera were just two of the several elected officials attending events to inform New Yorkers about the Affordable Care Act.
“Even with the brochures and all the information, you still need that human contact,” said Rivera. “Even though it’s been communicated on a daily basis for the last two or three weeks, I’d imagine that a lot of people still don’t know today it starts.”
However, Carmen Quintuna, Queens resident and mother of twins, air jordan 10 said she was no longer eligible for Medicaid after her twins were born in 2008 and has been looking forward to this date.
“Today is the day I have been waiting for almost five years,” said Quintuna. “I was constantly worried about getting sick because I knew I could not afford any medication or treatment.”
There are 16 insurance companies on New York’s marketplace. Choice in doctors vary based on the plan chosen but each company must adhere to 10 core benefits called the Essential Health Benefits. Some of these benefits include maternity care, mental health and substance use services, hospital stays, prescription drug coverage and pediatric services.
The enrollment through the marketplace will remain open until March 2014. After this time, those who remain uninsured will have to pay a penalty of either $95 or 1 percent of their income, and will increase to as much as $695 or 2.5 percent of income by 2016.
President Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House deplored the government shutdown and said it doesn’t accomplish the Republican opponents stated goal because it doesn’t affect funding for the insurance exchanges.
“The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House, that passed the Senate, the Supreme Court ruled Constitutional,” said Obama. “It is settled, and it is here to stay.”