Expanding Health Care Coverage

Grantee Name

New York Immigration Coalition

Funding Area

Expanding Health Care Coverage

Publication Date

November 2014

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

October 2011 – April 2013

New York is home to one of the largest and most diverse immigrant populations in the country. Nearly two million New Yorkers are noncitizens—both lawfully present, as well as undocumented.

Noncitizens are three times more likely than citizens to lack health insurance coverage; estimates suggest that 400,000 of the 700,000 undocumented immigrants in the State are uninsured. The roll-out of the Affordable Care Act opens up health insurance coverage to the 2.6 million uninsured New Yorkers, but some noncitizens are unlikely to benefit from this expansion because of gaps in the legislation regarding the inclusion of immigrants. Some lawful immigrants will continue to face federal restrictions on enrollment for public insurance programs, and undocumented immigrants will not be allowed to purchase insurance from the exchanges using their own money. There is, however, a bit of flexibility in the legislation for states to adopt policies that can be more inclusive.

To further inform New York’s policies on this matter, the New York Health Foundation (NYHealth) awarded $75,000 to the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) to inform State legislative decisions so that they might be more inclusive of immigrants in the Exchange and further continue the immigrant-friendly tradition in New York.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Developed a white paper, “Maximizing Health Care Reform for New York’s Immigrants,” which offers choices for State policymakers to preserve and promote immigrants’ access to health care coverage and to mitigate disparities between citizens and noncitizens in health care;
  • Garnered press attention from both national and local media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, NY1, and local ethnic press; abd
  • Held a national webinar to discuss the findings and has continued to present the report at health- and immigration-related conferences.

Recommendations outlined in the report continue to be implemented in the Exchange, including:

  • The Exchange provides multilingual telephone support; offers training to customer service representatives on cultural competence and language access; and offers written materials and spoken language in individuals’ preferred language.
  • The Exchange has designated language access coordinators responsible for creating and implementing language access policies and procedures for the Exchange.
  • Exchange staff members have established an informal health disparities workgroup, which has allowed for feedback loops to be established.
  • Organizations that received Navigator funding were required to address language capacity issues, and Navigators reflect a broad cross-section of community-based organizations that are embedded in immigrant communities.

NYIC plans to continue to advocate for the remaining recommendations to be included in the Exchange.