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Extended enrollment deadline keeps state health navigators busy

The state health department announced more than 154,000 previously uninsured New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance since open enrollment began Nov. 15.

Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives at the Community Service Society, a key navigator agency in New York, says her agency has experienced a high volume of requests for assistance enrolling in the state exchange, despite early speculation that it would be more difficult to reach uninsured people this year.

"Everybody's getting more confident in the website and the idea of enhanced penalties is finally kicking in for folks," Benjamin said.

According to Benjamin, the state’s decision to extend the deadline to enroll for insurance that begins Jan. 1 has helped.

"We are just getting overwhelmed with calls and email requests for appointments," Benjamin explained. "It seems that a lot of people are going to take advantage of that extra five days that New York state was so great to go out and get permission to grant New Yorkers."

Open enrollment runs until Feb. 15.