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Upstate Uninsured Rates Better than Rest of the Country

Excellus BCBS

  The percentage of people without health insurance in upstate New York is less than half the national average.  Information from Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield suggests employers and Obama-care are helping keep the region healthier.  Excellus Regional President Jim Reed says many not-for-profit insurers and a higher percentage of plans through people’s workplaces are key.

“Employers in upstate new York really embrace the model of providing coverage and subsidizing coverage for employees.  I think these are a couple of the main contributing factors that in the end lead to a  lower number of people in our community that have no insurance.” 

Nationally more than eleven-and-a-half percent of the population s without insurance…but upstate that figure falls to five-point-six percent.  Onondaga and Oneida counties are even a bit better, while Oswego has more than seven-percent uncovered.  Reed says certainly people have come of the uninsured rolls through Obama-care.

“The affordable care act and the new individual market that has emerged through the exchanges has made an impact.  Obviously they have a number of enrollees and people who are getting their coverage form the individual market.  I think that probably is true in Upstate New York as well”

Credit Excellus BCBS
Excellus finds Upstate insurance rates much better than the rest of the nation.

  But Reed cites rising costs as the one factor that could reverse the progress…despite the area having lower health premiums than much of the rest of the nation.

“Our rich history of having lower cost of health care and lower premium rates, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rate is affordable. The cost of health care has increased at such a pace in the last couple of years that it does threaten the viability of the system.”  

He believes non-profit insurers working with physicians and other providers of health care will be the way to keep costs down.  More health services delivered to people in a community-based way can also help.  The affordable care act goal was to have 90-percent coverage by 2025.  Most areas of upstate New York already exceed 93-percent.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at