Expanding Health Care Coverage

Grantee Name

New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access (OCHIA)

Funding Area

Expanding Health Care Coverage

Publication Date

February 2011

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

December 1, 2007 to September 30, 2009


Self-employed workers and those who work for small businesses struggle to obtain affordable health insurance and are often unaware of the insurance options available to them.

To address these issues, the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access (OCHIA) developed and promoted a new online outreach tool: www.nyc.gov/HILink. It is a comprehensive, consumer-friendly website for New Yorkers to inform small business owners, low-wage workers, self-employed workers, and uninsured individuals about the range of plans available to them, including lower-cost insurance plans. Data from Google Analytics indicate high Web traffic volume to the site; however it is currently unknown whether this traffic resulted in increased insurance enrollments. User feedback and enrollment data are needed to determine whether Web traffic resulted in New Yorkers actually enrolling in an insurance plan featured on the new website.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Developed the design of the website, the application protocols, research domain names and website hosting options, and online IRS Section 125 calculators.
  • Developed content for use in seminars with insurance brokers to educate them about lower-cost insurance plans that may be of interest to small businesses and self-employed individuals.
  • Partnered with the Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York City Chamber of Commerce, and New York City public libraries to spread the word about the new website.
  • Developed and mailed promotional materials to 1,200 newly established businesses in New York City to educate them about taking advantage of IRS Section 125 plans.
  • Advertised the website on 25 telephone kiosks around New York City, in subways, on other websites, and in a 30-second 311 public service announcement for eight weeks.
  • Published an op-ed piece entitled “Increasing Health Insurance Affordability through Section 125 Plans,” in the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s newspaper, Progress, in October 2008.
  • Participated in online social networking (Facebook and Delicious) to boost buzz about the new website.
  • Tested a prototype of the website with end-users, including small business owners, freelancers, and individuals buying coverage on their own in New York City. Separate testing was also conducted via a questionnaire and in person with select key stakeholders and experts in health insurance.
  • Hosted a daylong seminar on June 11, 2008 which was sponsored by the New York State Department of Insurance, OCHIA, and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
  • Launched the website at a press conference held on September 21, 2009.
  • Held a focus group with nine insurance brokers to discuss www.nyc.gov/HILink.

Read the report associated with the grant, “An Assessment of New York Health Foundation 2007 Health Insurance Coverage Grants.”