People across the state can officially start shopping for health insurance online at New York State of Health. YNN's Megan Cruz tells you what you need to know about the new marketplace.
NEW YORK STATE -- At 8 a.m. Tuesday, state officials launched New York State of Health. As the site launched, 500 customer service specialists were ready and waiting to tackled your questions in three call centers between Albany and New York City.
Kim Bloomfield works out of one of the Albany offices.
"It's been a little crazy, a lot of people have called in," she said.
"As of 10 a.m. the call center handled over 2,500 calls," said Donna Frescatore, the Executive Director for New York State of Health.
She said on average, callers had to wait about six minutes to speak with a specialist. However, callers said it was worth the wait.
"They were spending seven or more minutes with callers on the phone so they could thoroughly explain the marketplace," said Frescatore.
Some common questions included, "What the plan differences are, what's the difference in the costs," noted Bloomfield.
According to Frescatore, the plans offered are with certified providers like Empire Blue Cross. The costs vary depending on the tier you choose. For individuals, the average monthly premium can range from $131 to $215. For small businesses, it ranges from $233 to $392.
In the first two hours, Frescatore said two million people visited the online marketplace. She said it caused some delays in the site, but she remains confident it will get the job done.
"We have a team of technical experts that are onsite watching the website," she said.
Now to avoid fines, individuals and families must enroll in health insurance by March.
Small businesses are not mandated to get coverage, but beginning in 2014, New York State of Health will be the only way for small businesses to receive tax credits.
Businesses with more than 50 employees, they'll have to start providing coverage by 2015.
If you want to speak to someone at the call center, contact the toll free number at (855) 355-5777. The line is open from Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.