U.S. Uninsured Rate at 11.6% in Third Quarter

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The FINANCIAL — The uninsured rate among U.S. adults aged 18 and older was 11.6% in the third quarter of 2015, essentially unchanged from 11.4% in the second quarter, and down from 11.9% in the first quarter. The uninsured rate has declined 5.5 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013, just before the requirement for Americans to carry health insurance took effect in early 2014.

Third-quarter results are based on approximately 45,000 interviews with U.S. adults from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2015, conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Gallup and Healthways ask 500 U.S. adults each day whether they have health insurance, which on an aggregated basis allows for precise and ongoing measurement of the percentage of Americans with and without health insurance.

Sharp Drop in Uninsured Rate Among Minorities

The uninsured rate has dipped for all key subgroups since late 2013, with the sharpest drops occurring among racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income Americans. The uninsured rate among Hispanics is 29.0% in the third quarter, down 9.7 points from the fourth quarter of 2013. Over the same time period, the uninsured rate among blacks fell 7.5 points.

Across age groups, 26- to 34-year-olds have the largest drop in the percentage uninsured. The rate fell 8.3 points for this age group since the fourth quarter of 2013, followed closely by a 7.6-point dip among 18- to 25-year-olds.

More Americans Paying for Own Insurance

To assess changes in insurance type, Gallup and Healthways focus on adults aged 18 to 64 because nearly all Americans aged 65 and older have Medicare. The percentage of 18- to 64-year-olds who are covered through a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member was 21.2% in the third quarter, up from 17.6% in the fourth quarter of 2013. The percentages of Americans with Medicaid and Medicare insurance also have increased sizably.

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Gallup and Healthways began asking Americans about the source of their health insurance using the current question wording in August 2013 in anticipation of shifts in insurance type as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Gallup asks respondents, “Is your primary health insurance coverage through a current or former employer, a union, Medicare, Medicaid, military or veteran’s coverage or a plan fully paid for by you or a family member?” In addition, Gallup asks respondents if they have secondary health insurance coverage, and if so, what type of coverage it is. The results reported here are a combined estimate of primary and secondary insurance types.

 

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