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New York News

Report: Employer-sponsored health coverage falls 11 percentage points in NY

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-935813.mp3

Albany, NY – As another reflection of New York State's fragile economy, the number of workers availing themselves of employer-sponsored health insurance has fallen below the National average. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports employees are declining coverage due to rising costs.

The percent of workers in the state taking employer-sponsored heath insurance is on a downward spiral : plummeting from 69 percent in 2001 to 58 percent as of this year.

A report issued this week entitled "Decade of Decline: A Survey of Employer Health Insurance Coverage in New York State" paints a picture of New York facing a bigger health insurance crisis than any other state.

66% of firms surveyed reported they are struggling to afford health insurance. One in five has avoided hiring workers because of rising premium costs. One in four has had to either reduce or freeze wages. A majority of companies say they will raise the amount employees contribute for health insurance in the next year.

New York is a high-cost state for health insurance, where Employer-based coverage is about 10% more expensive than any other state. The cost is increasingly being transferred to workers. Annual premiums for family coverage sponsored by New York employers averaged nearly $15,000 in 2009. Pamela Lee Finch is the executive director of the Employer Alliance For Affordable Health Care in Albany. She says many of the small businesses she works with are still trying to gauge the impart of Federal Health care Reform.

Finch emphasizes that state legislation in particular affects small businesses. She notes that larger businesses don't share the burden of some of the higher costs.

Here is a LINK [PDF document] to the survey.