Increasing Health Insurance Coverage for Low-Wage Workers in New York City’s Small Businesses
Expanding Health Care Coverage
November 15, 2007
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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.
An estimated 400,000 of New York City’s 600,000 full-time, full-year uninsured workers are employed by small businesses. Most of these small businesses obtain their insurance information through brokers. Currently, many brokers and the small businesses they serve are unaware of the full range of lower cost insurance alternatives available to them. To bridge this information gap, OCHIA is undertaking a three-pronged educational outreach approach with the goal of increasing coverage for small business employees.
OCHIA plans to create an online tool that will provide a comprehensive directory of available insurance products, along with pricing and enrollment information that will direct clients to plans that best fit their cost and benefit preferences. This tool will be offered in seven languages and will be accessible to brokers, small businesses, and their employees. Second, OCHIA will develop a series of trainings for brokers to help promote the availability of Healthy NY and other affordable insurance options. Lastly, the agency plans to create an online calculator to show the financial impact of establishing Section 125 plans as a way to make insurance more affordable and to partner with payroll processing companies—like ADT—to help raise awareness of this tax-saving alternative. With these actions, taken together, OCHIA believes that it can reach more than 40,000 small businesses—expanding coverage for between 24,000 and 84,000 New York City workers.