cardiogram-pulse-trace-1461880398nt8-300x200-8058917Newly released Census Bureau data on the nation’s declining uninsured rate held good news and bad news for New York.

On the plus side, the share of New Yorkers lacking health insurance dropped to a new low of 7.1 percent in 2015, which was 2.3 points lower than the U.S. rate of 9.4 percent.

That translates to a net increase of 689,000 845,000 state residents with coverage since the Affordable Care Act took full effect in 2014.

On the disappointing side, the pace of New York’s progress toward universal coverage continued to slightly lag the national average. The state’s uninsured population dropped by 33 percent between 2013 and 2015, compared to 34 percent for the country as whole. That was enough for New York’s uninsured rate to slip from 14th- to 20th- lowest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Among the states passing it in that ranking were Kentucky (which went from 34th to 11th) and West Virginia (32nd to 10th).

This was despite New York’s wholehearted embrace of the ACA and its heavy spending on health care, both in the private sector and through the Medicaid program for the poor.

Holding the state back was sub-par growth in private insurance coverage. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of New Yorkers with employer-based plans actually dipped slightly in the Census Bureau survey. And the share with “direct purchase” plans–the type sold directly to individuals and families through Obamacare exchanges–increased 14 percent, well below the national average of 39 percent.

Enrollment figures from the New York State of Health, the state’s ACA purchasing exchange, have painted a similar picture.

This is likely due to New York’s unusually high premiums, which in turn are driven by high health-care costs and state-imposed mandates and taxes on insurance.

Enrollment in New York’s expansive version of the government-sponsored Medicaid health plan for the poor rose by 14 percent, a little below the U.S. average of 16 percent. This may simply reflect the fact that there was less room to grow: The survey showed one in four New Yorkers were enrolled in Medicaid in 2015, a higher share than all but six other states.

UPDATE: Here’s a spreadsheet with more detail.

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

You may also like

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Here’s a tool for sorting out New York’s local population trends

Federal census data for 2020 indicate New York State's total population increased by 823,147 residents, or 4 percent, since 2010. Population gains over the last decade were concentrated in urban areas and inner suburbs, while most rural communities saw th Read More

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

Health Research Inc. Turns Over its Payroll Records Despite Claiming To Be Exempt from FOIL

The full payroll records of more than 2,400 de facto state employees are available to the public for the first time after being released by Health Research Inc. Read More

New York’s Medicaid Rolls Kept Pace with a Nationwide Surge During the Pandemic

New York's Medicaid and Child Health Plus programs added three-quarters of a million enrollees during the coronavirus pandemic, roughly matching the pace of a national surge in sign-ups. Read More

New York’s State Share of Medicaid Spending is Due to Jump 22 Percent This Fiscal Year

The state share of Medicaid spending is projected to jump 22 percent under the recently approved state budget, an unusually steep one-year jump for what is already one of New York's biggest expenditures. Read More

New York’s Hospital Industry Ranks Near the Bottom of Two Quality Report Cards

New York's hospitals remain near the bottom of two quality report cards. The state's hospitals received the lowest rate of any state except Nevada and DC. Read More

New York’s ‘Bluest’ Counties Have the Lowest COVID Vaccination Rates for Older Residents

New York's bluest counties are posting the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates for older residents, a striking contrast with the pattern in the U.S. as a whole. The disparity appea Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!