About half of the New Yorkers who enrolled in the state’s health exchange were uninsured at the time of their application, the exchange’s executive director said Monday.
The state’s insurance marketplace, which launched in October, has processed 294,000 enrollments through midnight Sunday, executive director Donna Frescatore told a panel of state senators during a hearing. (The hearing continues through the early afternoon; watch here.)
A total of 230,624 people enrolled for individual coverage by Dec. 24, which was the deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. Of those, Frescatore said, about half were not insured at the time of enrollment.
“New York’s health plan marketplace is a leader in the nation, and health insurance through New York State of Health has grown steadily and significantly since first opening Oct. 1,” Frescatore said.
The Senate hearing focused on the state’s implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, which allowed the state to set up its own marketplace to connect consumers with insurers and Medicaid-funded programs.
Since the exchange, known as New York State of Health, launched, its website has seen 2.5 million unique visitors and 57 million page views, according to Frescatore. The high volume of traffic caused “problematic” delays for users when it first launched, but the technical issues were corrected by Oct. 5, she said.
“The traffic to the website remains high, and it’s operating smoothly with an average response time of less than 3.8 seconds when a consumer requests a page or action on the website,” Frescatore said.
Wait times for the exchange’s customer service call center, however, increased during the lead up to the Dec. 24 deadline. Frescatore said the exchange is “poised” to add call center representatives before March 31, the open-enrollment deadline for 2014 coverage.
The hearing was held by Sens. James Seward, R-Milford, Otsego County, and Kemp Hannon, R-Nassau County, who head the Senate’s insurance and health committees, respectively.
“When it comes to the exchange, I think New York is doing a good job when compared with the federal government,” Seward said.
He continued: “With that said, there are a number of issues that have come to my attention that warrant further discussion.”
Hannon urged Frescatore to expedite the creation of a Spanish-language website, noting that the application is available in Spanish but the website isn’t.
“We are working on a Spanish website and while I can’t give you a specific date today, we agree that it is something that should be made available to consumers and we’ll get it done,” Frescatore said.