By Joseph Spector
ALBANY More than 48,000 New Yorkers have enrolled in the state's health-care exchange and nearly 200,000 have finished the application process to get insurance through the system, the state Health Department announced Tuesday.
That's up from 37,000 that had enrolled as of Oct. 23.
New Yorkers may be having an easier time enrolling on the state site than the troubled federal site, which is healthcare.gov. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that fewer than 50,000 people had enrolled on the federal site, citing anonymous sources. The federal government had hoped for 500,000 enrollees in October.
The federal government has been besieged by problems with its own health exchange site, which is handling the enrollment for 36 states.
New York has its own site, and it was overwhelmed by visitors when it first launched. The website had more than 30 million hits in the first week it opened, but the problems appear to have subsided.
The New York site, called NY State of Health, has enrolled 48,162 New Yorkers since Oct. 1, and 197,011 customer completed the full application process to potentially begin receiving health insurance on Jan. 1. The enrollment period runs through March 31.
The state said that 88 percent of those determined eligible for insurance were qualified for private insurance.
The state said that 49 percent of the enrollees chose Medicaid, or 23,653 people. And 51 percent, or 24,509, chose private health insurance.
Last month, the health department indicated that two thirds of the new enrollees had chosen to sign up for Medicaid.
New York hopes to enroll 1.1 million uninsured residents over three years into the health exchange. To be enrolled by Jan. 1, people have to register by Dec. 15.
"We are very pleased to see these results, which show that tens of thousands of individuals across the state are turning to nystateofhealth.ny.gov to access low-cost health insurance," Donna Frescatore, executive director of NY State of Health, said in a statement.
People without health insurance would be hit with a fine on their income taxes in 2015, starting at about $95 or 1 percent of gross income. The fine can grow to as much as $695 a year over time.
The program also has a small-business marketplace that offers health insurance to businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Large businesses that do not offer employees health insurance could be hit with a fine in 2015.
The exchange also offers tax credits to those who earn less than $45,960 as an individual or $94,200 as a family of four.
The health department has estimated that New Yorkers could receive up to a 53 percent reduction on their health insurance compared to buying it on the open market. About 75 percent of enrollees would also be eligible for tax credits because of their income level.
There are 16 private insurers on the exchange and 10 dental insurers.
For more information, visit https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/, by calling toll-free at 1-855-355-5777, or in-person through a "navigator." The navigators, who are counselors for the program, can be found by county on the website.