Updated April 22, 9:45 a.m.
Health insurance may be more available to Queens residents than ever, but two local hospitals continue to be swamped with uninsured patients, according to a report from the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO).
Both Elmhurst Hospital and Queens Hospital in Jamaica, part of the Health + Hospitals Corporation (HHC), had the highest percentage of uninsured adults seeking outpatient care in the entire HHC system last year. The rates, however, have dropped since the full implementation in 2013 of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), which provided government subsidies and other methods designed to make health insurance more affordable.
About 31 percent of the nearly 617,000 adult outpatient visits at Elmhurst Hospital in 2015 were uninsured, the IBO report noted. That percentage is down from the 38 percent uninsured rate recorded two years earlier.
At Queens Hospital, 30 percent of its more than 410,000 adult outpatient visits in 2015 were uninsured; that percentage is down a full five percentage points from the uninsured patient rate in 2013.
Adult outpatient visits include urgent care treatment or pre-scheduled procedures that do not require an extended stay. Some uninsured patients may qualify for temporary Medicaid coverage if they come in with a major medical emergency that requires hospitalization.
Both Elmhurst and Queens, along with Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn and Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, had the highest share of uninsured adult outpatient visits in the HHC network, the IBO report found.
A spokesperson for NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst told QNS that the hospital actively works to enroll uninsured patients who seek care at the medical center for whatever type of coverage they are qualified to receive. Depending on their income levels and other factors, they may be enrolled through the NY State of Health Marketplace; MetroPlus, the city’s public health care system health plan; Medicare or Medicaid.
“But even if they’re not eligible for any of those plans, we care for them under our Options program,” the spokesperson said, referring to the HHC affordable payment plan.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that individuals obtain health insurance coverage either through their employers or independently. Those who elected not to have health insurance faced a 2 percent penalty on their federal income taxes for 2015. The act provides subsidies and other assistance for individual deemed qualified to receive financial aid in purchasing health insurance.