Upstate New York takes lead in insured citizens - The Buffalo News

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Upstate New York takes lead in insured citizens

Not only do Western New York and upstate New York have lower uninsured rates than the state, and nation, as a whole, but the rate is lower today than the goal set for the country 10 years from now.

If upstate New York – in this case, the 39 counties covered by Univera Healthcare and its parent, Excellus Health Plans – were its own state, it would have the fourth-lowest uninsured rate among the 50 states, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by Univera.

The Univera report found Western New York between 2010 and 2012 had an uninsured rate of 7.8 percent, lower than the rate for any other region within upstate and slightly better than the overall upstate rate of 8.4 percent.

The Western New York and upstate New York rates were themselves better than the statewide rate of 11.4 percent and the national rate of 15.1 percent.

“What that means,” Univera President Art Wingerter said in a statement, “is that 324,000 more upstate New Yorkers have health insurance than would have coverage if we were at the national rate.”

If the national population were insured at the rate for upstate New York, 21 million more people would have health insurance, Univera found.

The Western New York region and upstate as a whole also outpace the goal outlined last May in a Congressional Budget Office report, which predicted that the health insurance coverage rate for the younger-than-65 American population would reach 89 percent by 2023, leaving 11 percent uninsured.

“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,” the Univera president said.

Part of the reason for the high insurance rate in Western New York and upstate New York is the large number of people who get coverage through an employer.

In Western New York, 62.7 percent of residents have insurance through an employer, comparable to the 62.5 percent for upstate New York and well above the 54.8 percent for the country.

“From a taxpayer’s perspective, job-based health insurance is preferable to government-based coverage, because it costs taxpayers less,” Wingerter said.


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