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Business Council of Westchester Holds Forum On Obamacare

The Business Council of Westchester held a presentation on the Affordable Health Care Act on Wednesday, Nov. 19
The Business Council of Westchester held a presentation on the Affordable Health Care Act on Wednesday, Nov. 19 Photo Credit: Dina Grace Zoe Sciortino
Craig Hauben of North Shore-LIJ's CareConnect was a speaker at the event.
Craig Hauben of North Shore-LIJ's CareConnect was a speaker at the event. Photo Credit: Dina Grace Zoe Sciortino

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- As the enrollment period for health insurance coverage in 2015 begins, The Business Council of Westchester invited a panel of health care experts to discuss the impacts of Obamacare over the last year and into the next at the DoubleTree Hilton in Tarrytown on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

“We realized it was our responsibility to help our members as much as we could in understanding the Affordable Health Care Act,” said John Ravitz, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of BCW.

In the past, BCW has hosted seminars in libraries throughout the county to help the Westchester business community understand what mandates were still in place, what are new mandates, what mandates not to worry about, what tax credits were available and details on coverage for part-time and seasonal employees.

The keynote speaker at BCW’s most recent event admitted that the rollout of Obamacare was a disaster.

“We botched up the rollout, and it was not pretty,” said Dennis E. Gonzalez, the executive officer for the office of the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Native American tribes.

“To complicate matters, there was the federal government shutdown. Not only did the website not work, we didn’t have the staff to fix it.”

About one-third of eligible Americans who were previously uninsured are now insured since the Affordable Health Care Act’s rollout, according to Gonzalez. New enrollees also seem to be spending less money, as seven out of 10 are paying $100 or less a month on their premiums.

The federal government’s health care marketplace website has been working much better than last year, since open enrollment began on Saturday, Nov. 15. Enrollment ends Feb. 15. So far, 100,000 people have enrolled and 1 million have visited healthcare.gov .

“It’s unrealistic to think the cost of health care is not going to go up next year,” said Gonzalez. “We’ve seen the lowest increase in health care premiums in 30 years (over the last year).”

Danielle Holahan, deputy director for state Department of Heath, explained how small-business tax credits can be obtained by enrolling for health care through New York’s Health Plan Marketplace and about new additions to the website. The site will now allow shoppers to browse through different plans and get quotes anonymously without having to start an enrollment application.

Craig Hauben talked about how health care providers are looking into different ways of providing services to keep costs down.

Hauben said the next 10 years in health care would bring about significant changes, and you may even undergo procedures in your own home.

His company, North Shore-LIJ, which has 16 award-winning hospitals and about 400 physician practices, recently launched its own insurance company called CareConnect to cut out middleman costs and provide a more personalized care.

North Shore-LIJ recently partnered with Phelps Memorial and Northern Westchester hospitals.

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