Expanding Health Care Coverage

Project Title

Survey of Employer Health Benefits in New York, 2009

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Expanding Health Care Coverage

Date Awarded

July 15, 2009


Outside New York State





Private, employer-sponsored health insurance is the main pillar of the health coverage system in New York State, as it is in the rest of the nation.

In both New York and the United States, nearly 60% of the nonelderly population relies on employer-sponsored insurance. However, national data reveal steady erosion in this foundation over the last decade. Fewer firms are offering insurance to their employees. With NYHealth’s support, in 2009 the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago examined job-based insurance and uninsured New Yorkers under the age of 65. This data enabled NYHealth to report a deeper understanding on various trends associated with cost and coverage of employer health benefits, and also provided policymakers with reasons behind these trends.

Despite recent changes in employer health coverage across the nation caused by the weakening economy, higher unemployment rates, and rising medical costs, private employer-sponsored health insurance has not been examined in New York State since 2003. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC), one of the nation’s preeminent survey research organizations, will conduct a comprehensive health benefits survey to provide new and updated information on changes in employer-based health insurance and benefits. This survey will leverage the national Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research and Educational Trust Employer Health Benefits Survey, allowing comparisons of New York State to the nation as well as a comparison of trends over time within the State.

The NORC survey will reveal New York employers’ current health insurance knowledge and practices, including the percentage of employers offering coverage, employees’ eligibility for coverage, and the percentage of employees enrolled in health plans. The survey will also collect information on health insurance premium rates, and the level of employee cost-sharing for co-payments, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and lifetime limits. New York employers will also be asked about their knowledge of specific New York State-subsidized programs—such as Healthy NY—and the effect those programs have on their health coverage decisions. These data will reflect the extent to which employers choose to discontinue offering private insurance when public alternatives are available, a phenomenon known as crowd-out. Although the consideration of this issue is critical to advancing both State and Federal coverage policy, crowd-out has not been comprehensively studied. NYHealth and NORC will collaborate to disseminate the survey’s findings to the State as it considers health reform options.