Upstate Healthy NY Pilot Project

Governor David A. Paterson today announced a Syracuse-based company has been selected to run the first Upstate Healthy NY pilot project, which will provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and individuals in Central New York. Benefits Specialists, a subsidiary of the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, will administer the program which will offer premiums with discounts as high as 70 percent, and will work to increase enrollment through outreach and education initiatives. In existing programs, Healthy NY offers premiums nearly 38 percent lower than those of average small businesses, and even greater discounts for sole proprietors and individuals.

“We must continue our work to make New York the best place for business, and there has never been more important than during this economic crisis,” said Governor Paterson. “By offering low cost health insurance to small businesses and individuals, Healthy NY helps make New York competitive so that we can attract and retain great employees and employers. I am pleased that Benefits Specialists will take the lead on this pilot project in Central New York.”

While the average small business health insurance premium costs $400 per person per month, Benefits Specialists will offer Healthy NY packages for close to 70 percent less, starting as low as $121.79 per person per month. For individuals, Benefits Specialists will offer premiums that cost as much as $878 less than average individual rates.

Healthy NY is a cost effective program that makes health coverage affordable. For every dollar that New York spends on Healthy NY, four are generated: $3 in premiums from businesses and individuals who would not otherwise have health insurance and $1 in matching federal funds. Healthy NY currently has 155,000 enrollees. New York spent $130 million on the program in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

New York’s first Healthy NY pilot project began in Brooklyn with HealthWorks under the administration of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. This success inspired the project’s application to a region Upstate. HealthWorks has offered Healthy NY coverage packages since 2005 and now serves 368 small businesses.