NYC launches $100M universal health insurance program

Henrietta Strickland
January 9, 2019

New York City has launched a $100 million health insurance program to cover 600,000 uninsured residents, including those unable to afford coverage and those living in the United States illegally, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.

De Blasio, now in his second term as mayor of the country's most populous city, has long supported universal healthcare coverage.

The plan will provide health care to the almost 600,000 New Yorkers now using the ER as a primary provider, according to de Blasio. Mayor Bill de Blasio first broadcast the plan on MSNBC Tuesday morning, offering more details at a press conference held at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.

On Twitter, De Blasio wrote that there would be a public option and a new program called NYC Care. "We want them to have primary care, we want them to have specialty care", De Blasio crowed in a press release, according to local media.

"This is a big step in the right direction-but healthcare is still a human right, and must be extended to everyone in the state!" He said the city will make sure the process is "seamless".

It will be fully available across all five boroughs in 2021 at an estimated cost of $100 million a year. Right now, he explained, numerous city's uninsured put off medical attention when they need it because they assume they can't afford it. We're getting health care to a lot of people who've never had it before.

"Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it", De Blasio concluded. De Blasio aides told the NY Times that the NYC Care initiative is simply "something the city could do immediately and on its own". Yes it should. Let me just make that clear at the outset. We're going the opposite direction.

Part of the idea NYC Care, aides to the mayor said, was to ease that burden while providing better health care to New Yorkers.

The mayor said all services would be affordable on a sliding scale for those who are able to pay a portion of the costs, while those who can not afford to pay will receive care for free.

De Blasio said it will be paid for through the public health care system and he believes it will ultimately save money by preventing trips to the emergency room. The emergency room is the worst way to get health care, it's the most expensive way to get health care, ' he said. Officials hope to get the program up and running within two years, and while they weren't able to project wait times for secondary physicians, they hope that participants won't have to wait more than a week or two to see a primary doctor.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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