NYC reaching out to uninsured

The New York City Department of Health has launched a Web site that provides information about enrollment in public health insurance programs and ultimately will enable people to apply for coverage.

The department has teamed with Information Builders Inc. to create HealthStat (www.nyc.gov/html/hia/html/healthstat.html) a citywide initiative involving 20 agencies and numerous private entities.

Ed Carubis, chief information officer at the department said although enrollment is not yet possible via the site, it provides more information than ever.

"This system allows for any applicant to log on and find all the information they need," Carubis said. "If there are special requirements — such as language, location or wheelchair access, for example — the criteria can be typed in and the corresponding programs and all relevant information is instantly available."

Under direction of the mayor's Office of Health Insurance Access, HealthStat will be made available to the public throughout the five boroughs in hundreds of selected city facilities such as schools, health clinics, police precincts, firehouses and housing projects. Those locations were identified as places where people could obtain information on health insurance programs.

These locations will be fitted with Web-enabled computers, if they don't already have them.

"We're working with agencies all over the city," Carubis said. "Nurses in public schools are working with the site to get children covered. Corrections officers are working to help prisoners find information."

The Department of Health estimates that more than a half-million low-income New Yorkers — one-quarter of which are children — are eligible for health insurance programs but have not enrolled in them.

"This will cost some money," Carubis said, "but the initial investment on the part of New York City is hardly what I'd call large, in the neighborhood of $100,000."

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