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Low-cost health insurance plan aimed at young New Yorkers

Ellen Abbott
ACR's assistant director of support services-insurance programs Steve Wood announces news of an affordable health insurance plan for low-income earners in the state.

A low-cost, low-co-pay health insurance plan is now available for low income earners in New York state. The Essential Plan offers ten health benefits for less than $20 a month for anyone making less than $24,000. Steve Wood of ACR Health said the plan is very affordable.

"No deductible. Very low co-pays," Wood said. "I think the highest co-pay is about $150 for a hospital stay. Prescriptions: very, very low cost. Everything else is very inexpensive."

The new Essential Plan is aimed at one population that’s been slow to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act: young people with low incomes.

"They have student loans or they may have car payments and rent," Wood said. "When you’re just starting out, it’s hard to manage your bills because you’re not making a lot of money. This will alleviate that and correct that problem.”

Wood said this option comes at a time when the tax penalty for not signing up for a health plan is doubling.

"If you were uninsured during 2015, your tax penalty will be $325 per person in the household, or 2 percent of your income, whichever is higher," Wood said. "Now, if you are uninsured in 2016, the penalty rises dramatically. It’s $695 per person, or 2.5 percent of your income, again, whichever is higher.”

Wood says the Essential Plan is free or $20 a month depending on income. He also notes that it has low co-pays and no deductibles. The plan will cover ten categories of essential health benefits. Wood said there are three major insurance companies that will offer this plan in this part of the state. ACR Health has navigators to help consumers enroll in programs in nine counties from central New York and the Mohawk Valley up through the North Country.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.