N.Y. Sees Rise in Number of Health Insureds

September 29, 2006

New York was the only state to see a significant drop in its number of uninsured people even as their ranks grew nationally, a new report finds.

The report by the union-backed Fiscal Policy Institute found the percent of uninsured people in New York fell from 16.3 percent in 2000 to 13.5 percent in 2005.

Nationally, the number of people without health insurance coverage grew from 14.2 percent to 15.9 percent during the same period, according to a separate report that was to be released Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute, which coordinated its report with FPI.

The drop in New York was largely because of increased enrollment in public programs like Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus.

Family Health Plus, enacted in 2002, expanded coverage for people who can’t afford health care but earned too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Higher enrollment rates in state programs comes with a price tag.

“It’s great that people are getting coverage, but at the same time the burden of who pays for it is not falling very fairly,” said David Dyssegaard-Kallick, one of the study’s authors and a senior fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute.

As those enrolled in publicly-funded insurance programs has gone up in New York, fewer workers in the private sector are covered by their employers, the report found.

While 40.6 percent get insurance from private employers in New York, the report found the same is true for 42.6 percent nationally.

The Working Families Party has pushed for legislation in New York that would require companies with more than 100 employees to offer health insurance.

Party leaders have said the legislation could affect 450,000 workers in the state and would shift the burden of providing health care from tax payers to big businesses.

“The emerging alternative in New York State is that working families are asked to foot the bill through the tax system,” Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, said in a statement.

Roughly the same number of people get insurance through publicly funded programs in New York as those who get in through their employers, the report found.

There are still an estimated 2.6 million without insurance in the state.

Representatives from the state Insurance Department were not immediately available to comment.

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On the Net:

New York State Insurance Department: http://www.ins.state.ny.us/

Fiscal Policy Institute, http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/

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