Upstate New York’s Low Uninsured Rate Already Exceeds 2024 National Health Care Reform Goal

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Upstate New York’s health insurance coverage rate for residents younger than age 65 continued to eclipse the national rate by more than 7 percentage points in the final year of U.S. census data collected just before federal and state exchanges were opened for business by federal health care reform, according to a report issued today by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

The report, based on the latest set of 2013 data, will serve as a baseline in determining future gains in providing access to health coverage following the implementation of federal health care reform with the opening of exchanges in 2014.

“Our region is in much better shape than most of the country,” said Christopher Booth, chief executive officer of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “We’re already where the nation wants to be by the year 2024.” Booth was referring to a Congressional Budget Office report which predicted that health insurance coverage rates for the U.S. population younger than 65 would reach 89 percent by the year 2024. In 2013, upstate New York’s comparable insured rate was 90.8 percent.

The report 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.

The Excellus BlueCross BlueShield report also looked at the three-year averages for health insurance coverage (2011-2013) for all age groups. Upstate New York’s uninsured rate of 8.1 percent was significantly below the state uninsured rate (11 percent) and the national rate (14.8 percent).

“What that means,” said Booth, “is that 324,000 more upstate New Yorkers have health insurance than would have coverage if we were at the national rate.”

In addition, the report contains information on the percent of the population that has health insurance through an employer. Upstate New York’s employer-based health insurance coverage rate of 61.3 percent compared favorably to the state rate of 57 percent and national rate of 54.5 percent, according to the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield analysis.

“We have 330,000 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,” said Booth.

Upstate New York, for purposes of 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 BlueCross BlueShield report is based on data collected from 2011 to 2013 by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the largest and most current national data source available.

To view the report, “The Facts About Health Insurance Coverage in Upstate New York, and an entire library of fact sheets on health, wellness and health care cost and access issues, go to ExcellusBCBS.com/factsheets.