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Uninsured Rate for U.S. Young Adults Still Down From Past

Uninsured Rate for U.S. Young Adults Still Down From Past

by Elizabeth Mendes

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The percentage of young adults in the U.S. who lack health insurance began to decline at the end of 2010, when the healthcare law provision allowing those up to age 25 to stay on their parents' plans went into effect, and has remained lower since. Currently, 23.7% of 18- to 25-year-olds are uninsured, compared with 28.0% in the third quarter of 2010. The uninsured rate for 26- to 64-year-olds, though, has been rising since 2009, now at 19.6%. It was in the 15% range during most of 2008.

Uninsured by Age Group

The percentage of seniors who are uninsured has remained relatively stable over time, due to the large majority who qualify for Medicare.

Gallup and Healthways started monitoring U.S. adults' health insurance coverage status daily in January 2008 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

Fewer Americans Than Ever Get Health Insurance From an Employer

The 43.3% of American adults who said they get their health insurance from an employer in the second quarter of this year is the lowest quarterly average Gallup and Healthways have recorded to date. Employer-based health insurance has been steadily declining since 2009.

Overall, an average of 17.2% of U.S. adults were uninsured in the second quarter of 2013, similar to levels found in 2011 and 2012, but higher than in 2008 through 2010.

About one in four adults get their health coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, or military/veterans' benefits as has been the case since 2010. However, this rate is higher than what was found in 2008 and 2009.

The 11.3% who report getting coverage through "something else," which could mean they purchase it themselves, has been mostly flat since 2008.

Insurance Coverage by type

Bottom Line

In the lead up to the implementation of the major provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act -- the health insurance "mandate," which begins January 2014 -- the uninsured rate is relatively stable, though higher than it was in 2008 and 2009. This could change in the near future, though. The new health insurance exchanges, which will allow individuals to buy insurance in a competitive marketplace run through either the state or federal government, are still set to open for business Oct. 1 of this year, with insurance purchased through them going into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

However, one provision of the law has already been pushed back -- the requirement that employers with at least 50 full-time workers provide health insurance was delayed for a year. The House this week passed a bill to delay the individual mandate, which the Democratically-controlled Senate seems unlikely to pass and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto if the bill makes it through the Senate.

Still, young adults have and continue to see an apparent benefit from the part of the law already in force, allowing them to stay on their parents' plans longer, with the uninsured rate for this group remaining lower since initially dropping in the fall of 2010.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks well-being in the U.S. and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey April 1-June 30, 2013, with a random sample of 45,505 adults, aged 18 to 50 years, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

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 of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone 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 to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

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

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