An Update on Health Insurance Coverage in New York

Posted May, 14 2019 by Amanda Dunker

The CDC released early results from its National Health Interview Survey and it echos some of the data we’ve already seen. In most states, fewer people have health insurance – but in New York, more people do! There wasn’t enough data to know whether or not the change was meaningful, but it matches what we know from other sources. And even holding steady is an achievement in an era where the Trump Administration is doing everything it can to sabotage health insurance programs.

This chart, from the CDC’s report, shows a small increase in the number of insured people – while it could be that we just stayed the same, we can be proud of that too given how many people in other states lost coverage.

For example, the NY State of Health released final numbers recently the last open enrollment. Over 4.7 million New Yorkers used the Marketplace to buy health insurance or enroll in public plans, the most ever! The increases happened in every single county of the State.

We’ve always argued that robust investment in our Marketplace and consumer-assistance programs pays off, but comparing outcomes here to those in other States shows just how important those investments are. Some States chose to use the federal Marketplace infrastructure when implementing the Affordable Care Act. New York chose to build its own, a harder task, but with the result that our Marketplace integrates all of our programs perfectly.

We didn’t foresee an Administration that would work so hard to hurt those Marketplaces, but the decision to create our own infrastructure has protected us from it. In those other States, funding for marketing and for consumer assistance programs is controlled by the federal government. Even the amount of time people have to enroll is controlled by the federal government. So now that we have an Administration that wants those Marketplaces to fail, they’ve cut funding for marketing and consumer assistance and drastically shortened the amount of time people have to enroll. New York has done just the opposite, and achieved the opposite result.

As we talked about last week, we still have a lot to do to get to universal coverage. People without health insurance in New York are disproportionately part of racial and ethnic minority communities. But as a state we have options, and now we have proof that State-level strategies can make a big difference.

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