By: staff
With the October 1 launch of the new health insurance exchange, consumers should take the time to research their options.

“You should at least do as much research when buying health insurance as you would when buying a major appliance or new car,” said Art Wingerter, president of Univera Healthcare.

Individuals who are uninsured, or who are looking for lower cost health insurance coverage, have until March 31, 2014, to enroll in a health plan through New York State of Health, the state’s new online health insurance marketplace.

Tips for shopping on the New York exchange:

•Become an educated consumer: Watch informational videos or read up at , or

•See if you’re eligible for financial help. Try the Tax Credit and Premium Estimator at Your premium may be reduced if your household income is below 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $45,960 for individuals or $94,200 for a family of four.

•Determine your health care needs. List your typical health services and costs in a given year. Use the list to help you pick a plan that best fits your situation. For example, if you go to the doctor often, you may want a plan with lower copays for doctor visits.

•Consider all costs. Don’t just shop for coverage based on a health plan’s premiums. Consider other costs, such as deductibles and copays.

•See which health plans work with your doctor. It can be costly to see a doctor, pharmacy or hospital that’s not in a health plan’s network. You may need to double check this information with the provider or health insurer.

“It won’t do you a lot of good to purchase less expensive coverage, if the insurer’s provider network doesn’t include your doctors, or your preferred hospital,” Wingerter said.

New York state’s exchange offers an entirely new way to buy health insurance. If consumers do their homework, more individuals in upstate New York will gain access to affordable health coverage that meets their needs.

Univera Healthcare is a nonprofit health plan that is part of a family of companies financing and delivering health services for more than 1.8 million upstate New Yorkers. Based in Buffalo, the health plan serves more than 145,000 members across the eight counties that comprise Western New York.

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