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Upstate residents more likely to be insured than state, nation

Rochester Business Journal
February 27, 2013

Upstate New York’s single-digit uninsured rate was significantly lower than the rest of New York State’s rate, an Excellus BlueCross BlueShield report released Wednesday shows.

The findings indicate that an additional 20 million Americans younger than 65 would have health insurance coverage if the nation’s uninsured rate were as low as the 8.6 percent rate from 2009 through 2011 in Upstate New York, Excellus officials said.

Upstate New York’s rate of 8.6 percent was fifth lowest in the nation when ranked among comparable figures for U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Massachusetts had the best rate, at 4.2 percent.

The Finger Lakes Region—which includes Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Livingston, Yates and Seneca counties—has one of the lowest uninsured rates, at 8.2 percent. When Seneca and Yates counties are excluded, that rate drops even lower, to 7.9 percent.

Monroe County’s uninsured rate was 8.2 percent. And its employer-based coverage rate was 65.8 percent.

The analysis is based on data collected 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 compares with the state’s rate of 11.6 percent and the nation’s rate of 15.2 percent, the report shows. 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 47 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.”

The report also looks employer-based coverage rate and found upstate’s rate is higher than comparable rates for the state and nation. Roughly 3 million Upstate New York residents, or 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, Excellus officials said.

“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.

(c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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