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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

September 16, 2003

Report: Percentage of New Yorkers without health insurance is large upstate, larger downstate

Upstate New York is home to fewer uninsured people than downstate, but the numbers of uninsured in both areas continue to grow, according to a new study by Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

The report analyzed Census Bureau data and found that between 1999 and 2001 the average uninsured rate for upstate was 9.3 percent. The downstate average, in contrast, was 18.7 percent. during the same period. The study defined upstate as areas north of Dutchess and Orange Counties.

The report also found that the number of uninsured New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 64 rose from 8.6 percent to 9.1 percent between 2000 and 2001.

The report warned against increasing government-sponsored insurance programs saying increases could weaken existing programs.

"We know that uninsured rates upstate are rising and we've identified those upstate New Yorkers most at risk of having no health coverage," said said Gennaro J. Vasile, executive vice president of health care affairs for Excellus.

"Equipped with this information, policy makers and payors can better address the affordability of existing health coverage and develop new, more effectively targeted safety net programs for the uninsured."