January 8, 2015

Press Release # 002-15
Thursday, January 8, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Jean Weinberg/Veronica Lewin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov

Health Department and Human Resources Administration Launch New Ad Campaign to Encourage New Yorkers to Sign Up for Health Insurance Before the February 15 Deadline

Call 311 or text “CoveredNYC” or “SeguroNYC” to 877877 to find in-person assistance

The Health Department and the Human Resources Administration (HRA) today launched a new ad campaign to remind New Yorkers that they may qualify for a health insurance plan available through the Affordable Care Act at no cost. To find help signing up for health insurance before the open enrollment period ends on Feb. 15, New Yorkers can call 311 or text “CoveredNYC” or “SeguroNYC” to 877877 to get connected with someone who can help them enroll for health insurance in person. The new ads will run on subways and buses and in businesses through Feb. 15.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett made this announcement at NYC 311’s Call Center, where she was joined by NYC 311 Executive Director Joe Morrisroe, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner Steven Banks, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Marjorie Cadogan, Executive Deputy Commissioner for Citywide Health Insurance Access at HRA.

“Having health insurance and seeing a primary care physician regularly are crucial steps towards reducing health disparities in New York City,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “If you think health insurance is out of reach, think again. Many New Yorkers qualify for health insurance at no cost. Call 311 or text CoveredNYC to 877877 to find help today.”

“The de Blasio Administration is conducting a broad outreach campaign because we want to be sure that everyone who lacks health insurance takes advantage of this opportunity to sign up for no or low-cost coverage,” said HRA Commissioner Steven Banks. 

The Affordable Care Act makes health insurance attainable for those who previously could not afford coverage or do not have coverage available through their employer. Nearly 900,000 New York City residents have already enrolled in free and low-cost health insurance plans through the New York State of Health Marketplace. In addition to the bus and subway ads, posters will be displayed and flyers distributed in small businesses in communities in the five boroughs to encourage New Yorkers to get covered before the deadline.

Prior to Affordable Care Act implementation, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens had a higher number of uninsured adult residents than Manhattan or Staten Island. According to the Health Department’s 2013 Community Health Survey, New Yorkers living in West Queens, East New York, Sunset Park and East Harlem have the highest rates of uninsured adults, with more than 30 percent of residents reporting that they do not have health insurance.

According to the 2013 Community Health Survey, non-Hispanic blacks made up 24 percent of the uninsured population in New York City and Hispanics made up 44 percent of the uninsured population before Affordable Care Act health insurance plans were available. Although New York State data shows that progress was made during the last open enrollment period, with 102,534 non-Hispanic black residents enrolled (21 percent of all enrollees) and 138,979 of Hispanic residents enrolled (28 percent of all enrollees), there is still more work to be done to help uninsured New Yorkers sign up for health insurance.

“Access to comprehensive, quality health care services is critical for the achievement of health equity and for increasing the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” said NYC311 Executive Director Joseph Morrisroe. “NYC311 is pleased to provide New York City residents with information about new affordable health insurance options and assist them with enrollment.”

“We know from last year that it’s easier for people to get health insurance if they have someone help them enroll,” said Marjorie A. Cadogan Executive Deputy Commissioner for Citywide Health Insurance Access at HRA. “Certified Application Counselors are available to help people understand their health insurance options and enroll them in coverage.”

“It's crucial to encourage immigrants to learn more about getting affordable health insurance coverage, especially since many people do not even know they may be eligible," said Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal. "Health insurance coverage isn’t just a tool to get check-ups. It’s also protection for the most vulnerable members of our communities from unforeseen illnesses and accidents and—very importantly—protection from financial trouble.”

“The Affordable Care Act has been a great success across the city so far, but there are still plenty of New Yorkers eligible for free, low-cost, and subsidized healthcare plans who aren’t covered yet,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The multilingual ad campaign on subways and buses is a crucial effort here in Manhattan, where East Harlem has had one of the highest rates of uninsured adults in the city.”

"Access to affordable health coverage can make a huge impact in the lives of working New Yorkers," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "When individuals have the ability to properly maintain their personal health, the entire community benefits as a result. I'm proud that New York City is taking the initiative to inform our residents of the benefits they may be eligible for and thank Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett for spearheading this important initiative."

“The Marketplace offers a choice of quality health plans and you can receive financial assistance based on your income,” said Seth Diamond, Chief Operating Officer of MetroPlus Health Plan, the most popular choice for City residents on the health exchange last year. “Unexpected medical bills are a leading cause of financial stress and there is great peace of mind knowing that you and your family are covered not just for routine preventive care but also against catastrophic injury or illness. We strongly urge people who are eligible to sign up before the deadline, regardless of which insurance provider they choose.”

Both the Health Department and HRA offer in-person assistance through Certified Application Counselors who help families and children sign up for low-or no-cost health insurance. By calling 311, New Yorkers can locate assistors who speak multiple languages.

For more information, call 311 or search “health insurance” at nyc.gov.