Extending health care coverage to undocumented New Yorkers statewide would boost worker productivity, add $20 million to peoples' personal finances and result in $19 million for the health care system itself by reducing emergency room visits, according to an analysis to be released widely Tuesday by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.
All told, the proposal could generate $710 million for the state's economy while also boosting life expectancy, Lander's analysis found.
The proposed "Coverage for All" plan has won the backing of immigration advocacy organizations as well as insurance companies. The move is meant to cover millions of New Yorkers who represent the "last mile" of uninsured people in the state who still lack health care coverage before universal coverage can be achieved.
“Immigrant New Yorkers were essential to New York’s fight against COVID-19, yet disproportionately shouldered the brunt of the health and financial turmoil of the pandemic in part due to poorer health care access,” Lander said. “Expanding quality and affordable medical coverage regardless of immigration status will bolster both healthier communities and a healthier economy. Coverage For All will help immigrant communities avoid unnecessary and costly emergency room visits as a source of primary care while guaranteeing longer lives and economic benefits for both employers and health care providers.”
All children under age 19 in New York regardless of immigration status qualify for Child Health Plus. Under the measure, undocumented immigrant adults living in New York living on incomes of up to less than 200% of the federal poverty line would qualify for coverage.
Almost half of the remaining uninsured people in the state are undocumented residents. State lawmakers this week included a version of the proposal in their budget proposals. A spending plan is expected to pass by the end of the month.
"Getting the uninsured rate to near zero is within reach," said The New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, a coalition of insurers. "By proposing to extend coverage to undocumented immigrants through a state-funded Essential Plan, the Legislature has positioned New York to be the first state to achieve affordable universal health insurance coverage."