Empire State Health Premiums Headed Higher

August 30, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - It looks like New Yorkers are going to be digging a little deeper to pay for workplace health insurance in the next year, according to a new study.

If Empire State companies do what they say, three out of four workers will have to contend with pricier insurance costs, according to the study by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York research group.

A story about the study from Washington-based legal publisher BNA said 41% of employee benefit managers at New York companies predicted higher employee insurance payments. That includes 73% of large companies and 58% of medium-sized ones.

Low-Wage Woes

The survey also found that workers in low-wage New York companies are less likely to be offered health insurance than their counterparts nationally. Among employers who do not offer health insurance, 64% cited high premiums as a reason and 42% said they believe their employees are covered elsewhere, the study said.

Among companies with 35% or more of workers making $20,000 or less nationwide, 52% offered health benefits. In New York, only 41% of such firms offered health benefits, the study said.

“Under” Covered


Among employers who do not offer health insurance, nearly two-thirds (64%) cited high premiums as a reason, and 42% said they believe their employees are covered elsewhere.


However, among uncovered workers, job loss was identified as a leading reason for loss of health insurance coverage.   Two thirds of uninsured adults during the 12-month period covered by the survey had previously been covered through their own job or their spouse’s.   Most (52%) lost health benefits because either they or their spouses became unemployed.


While most workers who lose their jobs are eligible to keep their health insurance coverage for a period of time (COBRA), but just one in four workers (23%) indicated that they would be “very likely” to purchase COBRA coverage if they lost their jobs, and just 16% of lower-income workers would continue coverage.

The report was based on telephone interviews with 599 human resources and benefits professionals from May through November 2001.

The survey is at http://www.cmwf.org/programs/insurance/574_Whitmore_empire_state.pdf