Numbers of uninsured New Yorkers soars


By Barbara Benson

Published: September 11, 2009 - 3:39 pm


The proportion of uninsured New Yorkers skyrocketed by 2 percentage points in 2008, according to census figures released Thursday. A total of 2.72 million New Yorkers were uninsured last year, which means that 14.1% of the state's population had no insurance at some point during the year. Based on the new U.S. Census Bureau data, the percentage of uninsured adults aged 19-64 rose t0 19% from 17.2% in the previous year.


“This increase reflects what we hear from men and women all cross the state—the system is broken; more and more New Yorkers are losing their jobs in this tough economic time and are finding themselves without affordable health care options,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society, on behalf of Health Care For All New York.


Among the 2.72 million New Yorkers without insurance in 2008, 2.65 million were under age 65.


Since non-citizens are more than three times as likely to be uninsured as citizens, there are thousands more New Yorkers who are not included in those numbers.


Among the 16.6 million New Yorkers who did have insurance last year, 12.57 million were covered by private insurance. Most of them (11.34 million) received that insurance through their employers.


The New York figures mirror national trends, where employer-sponsored coverage continues to decline, somewhat offset by an increase in people covered by public programs. But as the census data is from 2008, the worsening economy will likely accelerate that trend this year.


“With this economy, we can expect employer coverage will continue to erode,” said Danielle Holahan, the United Hospital Funds' co-director, Health Insurance Project.


The good news in Thursday's census data was that more kids in New York have insurance coverage. The number of uninsured children fell to 7.3% in 2008, from 9.2% of the total in 2007. The state has made a commitment to investing in coverage for children, and its expansion of Child Health Plus has lead to a decrease in the number of uninsured children.


Nationally, the number of people with health insurance rose to 255.1 million in 2008, from 253.4 million in 2007. The number of uninsured rose to 46.3 million in 2008 from 45.7 million in 2007. Between 2007 and 2008, the number of people covered by private health insurance fell to 201 million from 202 million.


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