Upstate and New York Statewide Uninsured Rates Reach Best Levels Ever Recorded

Health coverage in upstate NY-updated 9/26/19

​Upstate New York’s health insurance uninsured rate fell to 3.5 percent, the lowest ever recorded, according to Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey issued today.

The upstate rate compares favorably to a new best record for the state of 5.4 percent. The national rate rose slightly to 8.9 percent. (Rates from 2017 were: 4 percent in upstate New York; 5.7 percent, NYS; and 8.7 percent, U.S.)

“These low rates of uninsured present an even better picture than what most people might realize,” said Christopher Booth, the health plan’s chief executive officer. “The real uninsured number is even less because these surveys only record those who report having coverage. There are thousands more who are eligible for coverage but simply have not enrolled in such programs as Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Medicare.” 

For example, the uninsured numbers reported for 2018 include more than 23,000 New Yorkers aged 65 and older who would likely qualify for Medicare and more than 107,000 people under age 19 who would likely qualify for Child Health Plus coverage.

The American Community Survey is the largest and the U.S. Census Bureau’s recommended source for examining uninsured data at national, state and regional levels. It reports the yearly uninsured rate for geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more. The county-level data were aggregated to calculate the upstate uninsured rate cited by the health plan.  

“Upstate New York’s uninsured rates have historically been lower than the numbers recorded for the state and nation,” Booth observed. “We believe the more favorable numbers here reflect the fact that the region has lower levels of health care spending due to a marketplace of nonprofit health plans and nonprofit hospital systems.”

View an Excellus BCBS infographic illustrating the census numbers titled Upstate NY's Uninsured Rate-infographic (September 2019).” 

# # #

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 3,500 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit

​Media Contact: Jim Redmond, 585-238-4579 /  

Source: Excellus BlueCross BlueShield