NEW YORK (Reuters) – One of every six adult New Yorkers has no health insurance, even though nearly two-thirds of these individuals have jobs, according to a report by the city’s health department released on Wednesday.
The high cost of medical care discouraged 41 percent of New Yorkers who had no insurance from seeking care — about four times as many as those who did have benefits, according to the report by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Whites were more likely to have health insurance than other ethnic groups. One in 10 whites had no benefits, compared with one in four Hispanics who lacked insurance, one in five Asians, and one in six blacks.
"All of this adds up to people landing in emergency rooms with costly, devastating health problems that could have been prevented or treated," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the city’s health commissioner, in a statement.
"This report tells us that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are missing out on routine screenings that could prevent illnesses and save lives," Frieden added.
In 2005, some 435,000 patients who lacked health insurance were treated at the city’s public hospitals, costing the hospitals some $515 million, said Doug Turetsky, a spokesman for the Independent Budget Office.
New York City, with a population of more than 8 million, has one of the biggest U.S. public hospital systems.
The city will spend more than $5 billion on Medicaid, the state-federal health plan for the poor, out of its current $59 billion budget, Turetsky said. Rating agencies scrutinize the city’s health-care costs, which are nearly 12 percent of its budget.
Some 24 percent of the uninsured group failed to fill prescriptions, about twice as many of those with benefits.
One in five men had no health insurance. The results were slightly better for women, at one in eight, the report said.
Though New Yorkers who do have a regular health care provider get more advice on nutrition, exercise, and weight control, this "does not increase the likelihood of following this advice," the report added.