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Press Release


Feb 09, 2000

Uninsured In New York City: Working Families At Risk

The first borough-by-borough analysis of New Yorkers' health care coverage reveals that lack of insurance afflicts residents in all parts of the city. Queens residents fare the worst, where one of three (33%) is uninsured. Most uninsured New Yorkers have jobs that do not provide health insurance, and they cannot afford to pay high premiums on low incomes. Regardless of where they live, city residents without health care coverage are at least twice as likely to experience difficulties gaining access to health care. "New York's recent bold step to provide health care coverage to more of the working poor comes not a moment too soon," said Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund. "Despite a booming economy, too many New Yorkers still lack health coverage. This is a problem that won't go away by itself." The new analysis by The Commonwealth Fund, "Five Boroughs, Common Problems: The Uninsured in New York City," by Fund staff David Sandman and Elisabeth Simantov, is based on The Commonwealth Fund Survey of Health Care in New York City, 1997. Findings include:

  • The Bronx and Brooklyn also have high rates of uninsured (both 29%).
  • Staten Island has the lowest rate (15%)¾ half that of the city total (28%).
  • Manhattan has the median rate, with one of four (24%) uninsured.
  • Despite having the highest poverty rates, the Bronx and Brooklyn do not have the highest uninsured rate because many poor residents are able to obtain Medicaid coverage.
  • In New York City, three of four uninsured adults ages 18 to 64 have incomes below 250 percent of the poverty level—about $25,000 for a family of two.
  • Uninsured rates among New York City's minority adults under age 65 are 50 percent higher than for the city's white, non-Hispanic adults.
  • More than half (54%) of uninsured New Yorkers have difficulty getting access to medical care, compared with 14 percent of those with insurance.
"It is not the poorest who are most likely to lack insurance, but the "working poor"—those with incomes just above the poverty level," said David Sandman, program officer at the Fund. "Programs like Family Health Plus hold tremendous promise for helping working families throughout the city and state lead more healthy and productive lives."