FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2014
HHC Queens Hospital Center Helps Queens Residents Apply for Health Insurance Before Affordable Care Deadline
Bilingual Counselors Available On-Site to Help Uninsured Patients Sign Up for Affordable Healthcare Coverage
New York, NY ― New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s Queens Hospital Center (QHC) officials today announced that bilingual health insurance enrollment counselors will be available on-site to help New Yorkers access affordable health insurance before the March 31 Affordable Care Act (ACA) deadline. Counselors at Queens Hospital Center are available to speak in English, Spanish, Creole, French, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.
QHC will partner with HHC’s own health plan, MetroPlus, and with HealthFirst, to provide walk-in hours for new patients and appointments for existing patients by calling 718-883-3782, to meet with bilingual counselors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, free of charge, in either the hospital’s main building atrium or in the Managed Care Office on the first floor of the N Building. Both locations can be accessed via the hospital’s main entrance at 82-68 164th Street in Jamaica.
The lack of access to bilingual counselors has been identified as a major barrier for enrolling limited English-speaking New Yorkers in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In response, HHC and Queens Hospital Center are making available certified, bilingual enrollment counselors to inform and educate the community about the best health insurance options and ways to minimize premiums and out-of-pocket costs. March 31 is the deadline for individuals to enroll in health insurance coverage to avoid a penalty for not obtaining insurance in 2014 under the ACA.
Experts estimate that more than 70 percent of City residents qualify for financial aid in the health insurance market. For an unmarried New Yorker who earns $20,000 per year, the cost of health insurance on the State exchange could be as low as $26 per month. A family of four earning $32,000 per year can qualify for high-quality health insurance at no cost. Even a family of four earning as much as $94,200 can receive some kind of financial assistance to purchase health insurance through the State exchange.
“Queens County serves the most diverse group of people in the nation, and for many English is their second language,” said Karen Graham, QHC’s Director of Managed Care. “Navigating the healthcare system can be challenging for people with limited English proficiency. The availability of these bilingual services makes the process of signing up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline easier and more efficient for our community.
“Many people in the community were discouraged because it’s difficult to find bilingual representatives to help with the enrollment process,” said Graham. “Partnering with QHC to offer walk-in access to in-language counselors is key to reaching these communities as the deadline approaches.”
HHC’s health plan, MetroPlus, is one of the options on the health insurance marketplace. MetroPlus offers access to a network of more than 12,000 primary care physicians and specialist sites across the city and has the most affordable options in three of the four levels available on the marketplace. As of March 24, more than 54,000 shoppers on the NY State of Health website – the official health insurance marketplace in New York – chose MetroPlus as their preferred health insurance option, making it one of the most popular choices among New York City residents. The plan covers all essential health benefits, including emergency services, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, and preventive and wellness services. It also offers a vision and dental rider for an additional low cost; the rate varies per level.
Anyone who lives in the United States and is a legal citizen or resident (and is not incarcerated) is eligible for coverage and encouraged to sign up under the ACA. Those who are not eligible under the ACA can still go to an HHC facility such as Queens Hospital Center to receive their healthcare regardless of their immigration status or their ability to pay. To locate an HHC facility near you, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/hhc.