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Excellus: Upstate’s health-insurance coverage rate exceeds national goal for 2024

DeWITT, N.Y. — The health-insurance coverage rate in upstate New York for residents younger than age 65 “continued to eclipse” the national rate by more than 7 percent in 2013.

The data is from the final year of U.S. Census data collection just before the opening of federal and state insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The information is part of a report that Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS), Central New York’s largest health insurer, issued Wednesday.

The report, which Excellus 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 and the opening of insurance exchanges in 2014.

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“Our region is in much better shape than most of the country,” Christopher Booth, CEO of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, contended in the news release. “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.

Upstate New York’s comparable insured rate was 90.8 percent in 2013, Excellus said.

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 BCBS report also examined 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), Excellus said.

“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 percentage of the population that has health insurance through an employer.

Upstate New York’s employer-based health-insurance coverage rate of 61.3 percent exceeded the state rate of 57 percent and national rate of 54.5 percent, according to the Excellus BCBS 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.

Excellus defined upstate New York, for purposes of analysis, as an area bounded by Buffalo to the west, Utica to the east, Binghamton to the south and the Adirondacks to the north.

The health insurer based its report on data that the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey collected from 2011 to 2013.

Excellus describes the information as the “largest and most current national data source available.”

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