About the Report:
In 2019, a Health Foundation for Western & Central New York’s (HFWCNY) report found that in Western and Central NY over 150,000 people had income that may have made them eligible for assistance, and over 95,000 of them met the income standards for free or very low-cost coverage through Medicaid. To build upon HFWCNY’s research NY StateWide Senior Action Council produced a follow-up study, supported by HFWCNY, to identify barriers to obtaining health insurance coverage in Central New York. In our research, NY StateWide conducted focus groups and found that gaps in obtaining health insurance is only the first step in reducing barriers to good, affordable health care. After conducting ten focus groups across eight counties in central NY and retrieving individual health access evaluations from 111 participants, NY StateWide identified important insights into the issues and injustices central NY residents face when seeking care.
Key findings from the focus groups include:
- Insurance does not equal Health Care
- The cost of services and medication was a major concern, mentioned in every focus group across eight counties.
- The lack of medical services, providers, reliable transportation and a decreasing number of physicians in rural communities leaves residents vulnerable and isolated from receiving care.
- The need to improve communications and transparency to increase accessibility and decrease barriers to learning about resources.
- The need for systemic change to the existing medical insurance system through public policy advocacy and education. Change options include: a Single Payer system; Medicare for All; and Universal Health Care.
We believe the findings from this report speak to the experiences of many residents in central NY. Participants in all groups consistently identified barriers that not only impeded with their ability to access care, but illustrated a lack of agency and choice in receiving excellent care. As residents, health care professionals, legislators and advocates are searching for a solution to improving our health system, the experiences and recommendations of directly impacted communities must be acknowledged with intention. This report gives context and direction to further guide our work and community-centered initiatives in 2020 and beyond.