I spent a day with a health van providing care to low-income New Yorkers, and it reveals a hidden safety net for thousands in the world's wealthiest city
- About 700,000 people in New York City don't have health insurance.
- The Community Healthcare Network is working to ensure that people without insurance can receive basic healthcare services.
- Founded in 1981, CHN has 14 federally qualified health centers in four boroughs and a fleet of vans that go to different neighborhoods throughout the city almost every day of the week.
- CHN says that it provides care for 85,000 New Yorkers annually and that 2,090 patients were seen in the vans over the past year.
- Business Insider spent a day with one of the vans in Manhattan's East Village to see how people without insurance get care in the wealthiest city in the world.
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New York City is the wealthiest city in the world. And yet more than half a million people in the city don't have health insurance.
A healthcare network whose mission is to "turn no one away" is working to ensure that people without insurance or who are undocumented can get basic health services.Founded in 1981, the Community Healthcare Network has 14 federally qualified health centers in four boroughs of New York City - Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan - that provide basic primary-care and sexual-health services.
It also has a fleet of four vans that go to different neighborhoods throughout the city most days of the week. CHN says that it sees 85,000 New Yorkers annually and that 2,090 patients were seen in the vans over the past year.
Health vans can go to where the patients are
While the vans see only a fraction of the patients the health clinics see, a CHN representative told Business Insider that the vans "bring care to people where people are," focusing on communities that have often gone without care.
The vans can bring care to areas that regular clinics don't reach. CHN cited recent examples of vans being sent to provide vaccines during the recent measles outbreak, going to hard-hit communities after Superstorm Sandy, and providing after-hours care at clubs and bars.
CEO Robert Hayes told Business Insider that the vans usually go to areas with more acute needs based on New York City health data. He also said that CHN works with other community centers and organizations in the city to coordinate scheduling and notify residents when a van will be in their neighborhood.
"The reality is we turn no one away. We accept any insurance," Hayes told Business Insider. "Under federal law, we are required to have a sliding fee scale based on their income. But we don't want that sliding fee to be a deterrent to people needing care. No matter what, they'll receive treatment."The vans are a sharp reminder of the inequality that persists in New York City. There were about 8,980 ultra-rich people living in New York in 2018, the most of any city in the world, Wealth-X said in its 2019 World Ultra Wealth Report. The group defines the ultra-wealthy as having a net worth of at least $30 million.
Business Insider spent the day with one of the vans at 14th Street and Second Avenue to take a closer look at how underserved populations get care in one of the world's wealthiest cities.