WEST BABYLON - The surprise shut-down of a major insurer has thousands of people scrambling to find health care coverage.

Wendy Darwell, of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, says the state was forced to shut down Health Republic before the end of the year on concerns that the company couldn't pay its bills, potentially leaving medical providers and patients on the hook.

The decision means Health Republic customers now have to select a new plan through the state exchange to cover them for the rest of the year. They will then have repeat the process to obtain coverage for next year.  

Health Republic customers have until Nov. 16 to select a replacement coverage plan for the remainder of the year.

Later this month, the open enrollment period will begin for 2016.