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Broker News | Vol. 8, No. 5 | March 8, 2013
Broker News | Vol. 8, No. 5 | March 8, 2013

Upstate NY’s Under-65 Health Insurance Coverage Rate Already Exceeds Federal Projections of U.S. Rate for 2022

An additional 20 million Americans would have health insurance coverage if the U.S. uninsured rate were as low as the single-digit rate in upstate New York, according to a report issued by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

The Excellus BlueCross BlueShield analysis, The Facts About Health Insurance Coverage in Upstate New York (PDF), is based on data collected from 2009 through 2011 by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which is the largest and most current national data source available. The report sharply contrasts upstate New York — with its lower uninsured rate and higher job-based coverage rate — with the state and nation. 

Upstate New York’s uninsured rate of 8.6 percent from 2009 through 2011 was significantly lower than New York state’s rate (11.6 percent) and the nation’s rate (15.2 percent), according to the report. If the uninsured rate in upstate New York were as high as the U.S. rate,  317,000 more upstate New Yorkers would be uninsured than are today.

“With a lower uninsured rate than 45 U.S. states, upstate New York is in much better shape than most of the country,” said Jim Reed, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Excellus BCBS. “Upstate New York’s higher rate of employer-based coverage — associated with lower health insurance costs — and greater participation in government safety net programs contribute to lower uninsured rates in upstate New York,” he said.

The Excellus BlueCross BlueShield report shows that upstate New York’s employer-based coverage rate is higher than comparable rates for the state and nation. About 3 million upstate New York residents (62.9 percent) accessed health insurance through the workplace from 2009 through 2011. That’s almost 5 percentage points higher than the state’s 58 percent rate and 7.4 percentage points higher than the nation’s 55.5 percent rate.

Also highlighted in the study are health insurance coverage rates during the most recent year of available data (2011) for upstate New York counties with populations of 65,000 or more. Although an estimated 336,000 upstate New Yorkers (8.3 percent) reported being uninsured in 2011, the comparable statewide (11.4 percent) and national (15.1 percent) rates far exceeded upstate New York’s.

“One of the most striking findings of the Excellus BCBS study is just how far ahead upstate New York already is in terms of health insurance coverage — even before full implementation of federal health care reform,” Reed said.

A July 2012 Congressional Budget Office report predicted that 89 percent of Americans younger than 65 will have health insurance by the year 2022, when health care reform is fully implemented. “In upstate New York, our 2011 insured rate for this age group (90.4 percent) had already surpassed the Congressional Budget Office prediction for 2022,” she said.

Other highlights of the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield report include:

  • The uninsured rate in each of the five upstate New York regions studied (2009-2001) was less than 10 percent. These rates ranged from 8.2 percent in the Finger Lakes and in Western New York to 9.8 percent in the Southern Tier.
  • The job-based coverage rate in all five upstate New York regions during these same years exceeded 60 percent, ranging from 60.8 percent in Utica/Rome/the North Country to 65.8 percent in the Finger Lakes.
  • Four of the five upstate New York regions (Central New York, Finger Lakes, Western New York and Utica/Rome/the North Country) had a 2011 uninsured rate that was lower than its respective three-year rate (2009-2011).

An appendix to the report details uninsured and employer-based coverage rates (2009-2011) for each of the five upstate New York regions and all upstate New York counties with populations of at least 20,000.

Report: The Facts About Health Insurance Coverage in Upstate New York (PDF)

Video: How uninsured upstate New Yorkers can obtain health insurance coverage


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