By Bill Parry
Nearly a quarter of Sunnyside, Jackson Heights and Corona residents are uninsured, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who published the results of a new analysis Monday.
The publication of the new data coincides with the beginning of the Affordable Care Act open enrollment, which is running through Dec. 15 for coverage to start Jan. 1.
“Close to one million New York City residents lack even the most basic health coverage, Stringer said. “The situation is particularly dire in neighborhoods with large immigrant and younger populations like Jackson Heights and Corona where close to one of four New Yorkers don’t have health insurance. To ensure the long-term economic future of our city we need to make sure our residents are healthy and well. We want to get the word out: With the Affordable Care Act in place, getting health insurance is easier and more affordable than ever.”
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) was concerned to see that two neighborhoods in his District 26, Sunnyside and Woodside, are the top uninsured neighborhoods in the city, where 22.5 percent of the residents are uninsured followed closely by Jackson Heights and Elmhurst/Corona. Flushing was fifth on the list and Astoria was tenth.
“While our nation has made real progress with expanding access to real affordable health care to more Americans, it’s unacceptable that Sunnyside and Woodside have the highest rates of people without health insurance in New York City,” Van Bramer said. “Comptroller Stringer’s analysis highlights the need to open up more opportunities for immigrants to buy into insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. In this day and age it is deplorable that anyone living in New York City lacks access to basic health insurance and care.”
There was better news for Queens in a report released by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli last week. His data showed that immigrants generated $257 billion in economic activity during 2013, nearly one-third of the city’s economic output and nearly twice the level in 2000.
“Immigrants are playing an increasingly important role in New York City’s economy,” DiNapoli said. “The workplace is becoming more diverse, and the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of immigrants are experiencing economic growth that far exceeds the city-wide average.”
DiNapoli’s report showed that among city neighborhoods, Elmhurst/Corona had the highest percentage of immigrants at 64 percent. Jackson Heights, Flushing/Whitestone and Sunnyside/Woodside took the next three spots on the list. Each neighborhood had business growth that was faster than the citywide rate, with Elmhurst/Corona at 35 percent.
“The state comptroller’s report is further proof that immigrants both in my district, and even in New York as a whole, play a fundamental role in our society and our economy.” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “Even in light of the baseless attacks that they have endured of late, immigrants are a central part of the spirit in New York.”
Meanwhile, DiNapoli’s report showed that Flushing/Whitestone ranked third with a 57 percent immigrant share, while its business growth was at 50 percent compared to 13 percent citywide.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr