WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Fewer young adults in the U.S. reported lacking health insurance coverage in each of the three quarters since the new healthcare law in September 2010 began allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plans up to age 26. About one in four (24.2%) 18- to 25-year-olds reported being uninsured in the second quarter of this year, down from 28% in the third quarter of 2010, and nearly the lowest Gallup has measured at any point since it began tracking health insurance coverage rates in 2008.
The declining number of uninsured young adults is slowly reversing the trend that Gallup and Healthways documented starting in the fall of 2008. At that time, the uninsured rate for this age group -- and all age groups -- began to increase as the economy was collapsing and unemployment rising.
The percentage of uninsured 26- to 64-year-olds, however, continues to increase, rising to a high of 19.9% in the second quarter of this year. Among all Americans, 17.4% reported being uninsured in the second quarter of the year.
The increase in the percentage of all Americans who were uninsured in the second quarter of 2011 coincides with Gallup's decision to include more cell phone-only respondents in the U.S. beginning April 1. Thus, some of the increase in the uninsured could reflect the greater representation of cell phone-only respondents -- who tend to be younger -- in Gallup samples. Gallup does not expect the change in survey methods to affect the estimates of insurance rates among specific age groups.
The provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows children up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' plans appears to be having an immediate effect on the number of Americans who report they have health insurance. Since it went into effect in September 2010, the percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds who report being uninsured has significantly declined by four percentage points.
Gallup and Healthways track adults' health insurance coverage daily in the U.S. as part of the Well-Being Index. The uninsured rate initially increased in the fourth quarter of 2008, amid the financial crisis, and has remained elevated since. Whether the overall percentage of all Americans who lack healthcare coverage declines will depend not just on uninsured rates for 18- to 25-year-olds, but also on what happens to 26- to 64-year-olds over the next several years.
About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks U.S. and U.K. well-being and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey April 1-June 30, 2011, with a random sample of 89,857 adults -- and a similar number in previous quarters -- aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.