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Increase Access to Care

Western New Yorkers want broader access to care for all populations, especially the underserved - health care is a basic human right.

How is Western New York Doing?

Western New Yorkers are insured at greater levels than across the nation and state.

Health insurance is a basic need for all, and the foundation for accessible, affordable and quality health care. A significant majority of Western New York adults - nine out of 10 - have some form of health insurance coverage through a public or private plan, compared to 87 percent in New York State overall and 86 percent for the U.S. The region's urban counties see the highest rates of insured, with 94 percent insured in Erie County. The region's residents without coverage likely work for employers that do not offer health care benefits. They also may be unemployed but do not qualify - or are not aware of - government-sponsored plans such as Medicaid, Healthy NY or Family Health Plus. Few uninsured Western New Yorkers would be able to afford private coverage, which costs nearly $12,000 a year for the least expensive HMO plan available as of June 2009 in Erie County.

Nearly one in five uninsured Western New Yorkers also lacks access to a regular source of care.

Having a regular source of care is an important measure of care continuity, coordination and care quality. Without a regular source of care, Western New Yorkers likely are not receiving care when they need it, or care that considers their values and preferences. These individuals are also more likely to end up needing remedial care when manageable health problems spiral out of control. In Western New York, for those who lack insurance coverage in the region, approximately one in five lacks access to a regular source of care such as a community clinic, hospital-based clinics or other safety-net providers. Gaps in regular care are highest in areas of the region with large populations living in poverty and where safety net providers are scarce. For instance, in Niagara County, where nearly one-third of the uninsured go without a regular source of care, there are major concentrations of poverty and not one Federally Qualified Healthcare Center, which provide comprehensive primary medical services regardless of the patient's ability to pay. On the other hand, one of the region's rural counties - Cattaraugus County - has far lower numbers, with only 7 percent of its uninsured population without regular care access. In addition to the lack of actual care centers, additional barriers to care access include transportation, education levels, cultural or language barriers and a lack of awareness of available resources, all of which the uninsured are more likely to experience than the average Western New Yorker. A ramification of the region's pockmarked safety net and limited access to regular, primary care is frequent use of hospital emergency departments, which not only affects health outcomes but also contributes to escalating health care costs.

Make Healthy Choices: Performance Comparison

Performance Measures WNY Compared to
U.S. average
Health Insurance Coverage
Access to a Regular Source of Care

Data Gaps for this Priority

  • The region lacks...data on the number of Western New Yorkers who are underinsured or lack adequate coverage due to plan limitations or large deductibles or co-payments
  • The region lacks...demographic data on the region's uninsured population to target efforts to increase participation in publicly-sponsored plans or provide services, such as transportation, to connect residents to sources of care

Chart Legend

Data are from the CAHPS nationwide patient experience surveys of hospital patients and health plan customers, including 24 hospitals and three health plans in Western New York. See Measuring Methods for more information.

- Hospital Indicator
- Health Plan Indicator
- Risk Factor Indicator

- Above U.S. Average
- Same as U.S. Average
- Below U.S. Average
- Average Not Available