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Broker News | Vol. 9, No. 2 | January 31, 2014
Broker News | Vol. 9, No. 2 | January 31, 2014

Upstate New York’s Low Uninsured Rate Already Exceeds National Health Care Reform Goal for 2023

Upstate New York has a lower uninsured rate than all but three states in the nation and already exceeds the goal of what federal health care reform seeks to accomplish by the year 2023, according to a new report issued by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

"The Facts about Health Insurance Coverage in Upstate New York" (PDF) analyzed the most recent data available (2010-2012) for residents of all ages, and 2012 data for residents through age 64. (At age 65, all U.S. citizens automatically become eligible for Medicare.)

All ages coverage (2010-2012)

Upstate New York’s uninsured rate of 8.4 percent was significantly below the state’s uninsured rate (11.4 percent) and the national rate (15.1 percent). “What that means,” said Excellus BCBS CEO Christopher Booth, “is that 324,000 more upstate New Yorkers have health insurance than would have coverage if we were at the national rate.” 

The report (PDF) points out that the upstate New York region studied has a population larger than 28 other states, but its uninsured rate is lower than all states in the nation, excluding Massachusetts and the less populous states of Vermont and Hawaii.

Employer-based coverage (2010-2012)

Upstate New York’s employer-based health insurance coverage rate of 62.5 percent also compared favorably to the state rate of 57.4 percent and national rate of 54.8 percent, according to the Excellus BCBS analysis.

“From a taxpayer’s perspective, job-based health insurance is preferable to government-based coverage, because it costs taxpayers less,” Booth observed. “We have 371,000 more upstate New Yorkers covered due to job-based benefits than we’d have if we were at the national rate for employer-based coverage.”

Upstate New York vs. national goals for coverage (2012) 

Looking at 2012 survey data pertaining to residents younger than age 65, the Excellus BCBS analysis shows that 91.3 percent of upstate New Yorkers had health insurance coverage, well above the national rate of 83.1 percent.

A May 2013 Congressional Budget Office report forecasted that the health insurance coverage rate for the U.S. population younger than age 65 would reach 89 percent by the year 2023. "Before federal health care reform could even have an impact, our region started where the nation as a whole hopes to be nine years from now,” Booth said.

“Our region is in much better shape than most of the country,” Booth said. “I believe that upstate New York promotes a climate for wiser health care spending fostered by strong local collaborations among those who provide care and the employers and insurers who finance it. Upstate New York is also in a predominately local, nonprofit health plan marketplace characterized by low operating margins among most competing insurers.”

Detailed upstate New York regional uninsured figures available

The analysis also provides detailed uninsured figures for 2010-2012, based on clusters of upstate New York counties (and individual counties) with populations greater than 20,000.

Upstate New York, for purposes of the analysis, was defined as an area bounded by Buffalo to the west, Utica to the east, Binghamton to the south and the Adirondacks to the north. The Excellus BCBS report is based on data collected from 2010 to 2012 by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the largest and most current national data source available.

View the report (PDF) | Watch our video for Excellus BCBS CEO Christopher Booth’s thoughts on our lower uninsured rate.


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