The deadline for applying for New York State Marketplace health coverage has come and gone, but it may not be too late to sign up and avoid penalties for being uninsured.
CareConnect, a healthcare outreach initiative from the North Shore-LIJ Healthcare System, is bringing enrollment services in several languages to hospitals in Southwest Brooklyn and Queens – including Maimonides Medical Center – to help folks apply for coverage before the end of the special enrollment period on April 30th.
The initiative focuses on communities facing language barriers while navigating the complex system of health insurance and benefits by offering guidance in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Fujianese, Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi.
“Getting health insurance for the first time can be intimidating, especially if there’s a language barrier,” said Alan Murray, president and CEO of CareConnect. “At CareConnect, we see ourselves as advocates for the communities we serve. Helping people connect to health care and making sure they have every opportunity to manage their health affordably is central to our mission.”
New York’s special enrollment period, announced in February, extends from March 1 through April 30. To be eligible participants must have been unaware that they would face tax penalties if they did not enroll in a health plan, and have faced a tax penalty during 2014.
CareConnect partnered with Maimonides Medical Center and Forest Hills Hospital in order to help them better serve their communities, which, for a variety of reasons – including linguistic barriers – have seen lower rates of insurance than New York City’s population at large.
According to the state’s Department of Health, 30 percent of Latino New Yorkers, and over 14 percent of Asians currently lack health insurance – a figure that many advocates blame on a lack of English proficiency. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that Latinos make up 25 percent of the US uninsured population, and while the uninsured rate amongst Hispanics dropped 20 percent nationally after last year’s enrollment period, only 50 percent of eligible Latinos were aware of their new coverage options, compared to nearly 75 percent of eligible non-Hispanic whites.
To help mitigate these barriers to enrollment, CareConnect will offer a variety of services, including support while navigating the New York State of Health website, assistance in figuring out potential eligibility for a subsidy and help choosing and purchasing a plan.
Anyone who is interested can drop by Maimonides Medical Center (4802 10th Avenue) or call CareConnect to set up an appointment to speak with someone in their language. The teams will be stationed at the sites Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10am until 4pm, through April 30.