- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - More than 960,000 New Yorkers signed up for health insurance through the state exchange, officials said Wednesday.

About 94,000 of those finished applying in the two weeks after the original March 31 deadline, according to figures released by the exchange’s executive director, Donna Frescatore.

That leaves the program about 140,000 shy of a goal of 1.1 million enrollees by 2016, a sign of the public’s “tremendous interest” in it, Frescatore said.

As of last Thursday, New Yorkers accounted for about one-eighth of the 7.5 million people who signed up through all state exchanges and the federal website.

“It’s one of the most successful states,” said health care policy expert Sherry Glied. “I think all of the pieces came together here.”

Glied, the dean of New York University’s Graduate School of Public Service, credited the state for offering a breadth of plans that drove down costs, employing more than 8,800 people to guide applicants through the enrollment process and responding quickly to online glitches.

According to the state, 435,479 people enrolled in individual and family coverage through one of 16 private insurers and 525,283 enrolled in government-funded Medicaid since the program began in October.

More than 70 percent of New Yorkers who enrolled said they were uninsured when they applied, Frescatore said. She said other enrollees may have had coverage through a since-discontinued state direct-purchase program.

The premiums on the direct-purchase plans ran an average of 53 percent higher than comparable coverage on the exchange, she said.

Open enrollment for 2014 coverage at state-approved rates ended in March, but officials extended the deadline until Tuesday for people who started applying but did not complete the process.

The state said about 360,000 people who applied and were eligible for the exchange failed to choose plans, but it didn’t say why.

The enrollment window will remain open for people who marry, divorce, gain a dependent, lose employer coverage or move into the state, as well as for Medicaid and businesses with up to 50 employees.

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