Percentage Of Adults Without Health Insurance Hits New Low

Two years ago, a Gallup survey estimated the percentage of adult Americans without health insurance at more than 17%. Even at the beginning of 2014, as the individual coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act kicked, nearly 16% of Americans over the age of 18 were uninsured. The latest results from the polling organization currently put that rate at 11.4%, lower than any rate since Gallup began this survey in 2008.

According to the most recent numbers from the quarterly Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index,
uninsured rates have declined across virtually all age, race, and income groups included in the survey. The only demo to remain unchanged were those aged 65 and older, though at only 2% uninsured (since most are covered through Medicare), this age group was already the most-covered.

The most significant decline in uninsured rates was seen among those earning less than $36,000/year. In 2013, nearly 31% of these Americans were without coverage. That has since dropped to around 21%.

Hispanics remain the most likely to be uninsured, with around 29% of respondents saying they still don’t have coverage. However, that’s a noticeable drop from the nearly 39% of Hispanics who said they were uninsured in 2013.

Black Americans similarly went from around 21% uninsured in 2013 to 12% in the latest quarter, only slightly higher than the national average.

Close to 16% of 18-24 year-olds are without insurance, down from 23.5% two years ago. Because so many college-age adults are covered by family insurance plans, the slightly older 26-34 age group is still the least insured, at 20.4%. That rate was higher than 28% in 2013.

The wealthiest Americans join the oldest among those least changed in the last two years. Only 3.6% of those earning more than $90,000/year are without insurance, a slight decline from 5.8% in 2013.

In terms of who’s paying for these policies, a growing number of us are paying for insurance ourselves. The latest survey found that around 21% of Americans were in plans fully paid for by themselves or a family member, up from 17.6% at the end of 2013.

However, the percentage of adults getting coverage through their employer has remained relatively flat, only decreasing slightly from 44.2% in 2013 to 43.4% today.

More adults are covered by Medicaid too, says the survey, with the percentage of adults below the age of 64 receiving Medicaid increasing from 6.9% in 2013 to the current level of 9.5%. As Gallup notes, this is likely due to the expansion of Medicaid to cover a wider range of incomes.

Looking ahead, with the U.S. Supreme Court recently upholding insurance subsidies, Gallup is predicting that there may be further decline in the uninsured rate after the next enrollment period begins in November, but believes the change won’t be as significant as what we’ve seen in the last two years, “as those who remain uninsured are likely the hardest to engage.”

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