Employer offerings remain stable; age, race, income level affect coverage

The rate of adults age 18 and over without health insurance has declined 6.1 percent since the fourth quarter of 2013, and the first quarter 2016 uninsured rate of 11 percent is the lowest rate since Gallup and Healthways began tracking the uninsured rate in 2008 as part of their Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The decline in the uninsured rate since fall of 2013 coincides with the launch of the individual mandate through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires individuals to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage for 2014 or pay a penalty. The uninsured rate may be higher in the second quarter of 2016 when actual figures of those enrollees that have paid their premiums are tallied, and because the interviews were conducted before the exchanges closed.

What the survey measured. The Gallup-Healthways first quarter 2016 survey measured the change in health insurance enrollment rates from fourth quarter 2013 to first quarter 2016 based on age, race, and income. It also determined the change in the percentage of individuals who obtained their health insurance coverage through a current or former employer, a union, Medicare, Medicaid, military or veteran’s coverage, or from a plan fully paid for by the individual or a family member.

Age. Based on the age of the individual, the drop in the uninsured rate from fourth quarter 2013 to first quarter 2016 varied, but all categories dropped.
• From age 18 to 25, the rate dropped 8.7 percent (from 23.5 percent to 14.8 percent).
• From age 26 to 34, the rate dropped 9.7 percent (from 28.2 percent to 18.5 percent).
• From age 35 to 64, the rate dropped 7.3 percent (from 18.0 percent to 10.7 percent).
• For age 65 and over, the rate dropped 0.4 percent (from 2.0 percent to 1.6 percent).

Race. The largest drop in the uninsured rate was among Hispanics (10.4 percent), with blacks with a slightly lower decline (9.5 percent), and whites bringing up the rear (5.5 percent).

Income. The greater the annual income of the individual, the smaller the drop in the uninsured rate. For example, for individuals making $90,000 or more per year, the rate dropped only 2.9 percent (from 5.8 to 2.9 percent); for those making between $36,000 and $89,999 per year, the rate dropped 3.5 percent (from 11.7 to 8.2 percent); and for those making less than $36,000 per year, the rate dropped 10.7 percent (from 30.7 to 20 percent).

Source of coverage. The survey showed that the percentage of individuals obtaining insurance through various sources changed from fourth quarter 2013 to first quarter 2016. For example:

• Current or former employer coverage dropped 0.8 percent (from 44.2 to 43.4 percent.
• Individual or family plan coverage rose 4.2 percent (from 17.6 to 21.8 percent).
• Medicaid coverage rose 2.5 percent (from 6.9 to 9.4 percent).
• Medicare coverage rose 1.5 percent (from 6.1 to 7.6 percent).
• Military or Veteran’s coverage rose 0.6 percent (from 4.6 to 5.2 percent).
• Union coverage rose 0.1 percent (from 2.5 to 2.6 percent).
• Other types of coverage rose 0.9 percent (from 3.5 to 4.4 percent).
• No insurance coverage dropped 7.9 percent (from 20.8 to 12.9 percent).

Conclusions. The percentage drop in the uninsured rate was greatest among individuals aged 26 to 34, and lowest among those of Medicare age (over 65). The percentage drop among Hispanics and blacks was significantly larger than among whites and the percentage drop among those making less than $36,000 per year (10.7 percent) was more than triple that of those making $90,000 or more per year (2.9 percent). The number of individuals getting their coverage through employers has remained stable (a very slight drop of less than 1.0 percent), indicating that employers believe that offering health insurance to its employees is essential to attracting and retaining workers.

SOURCE: http://www.gallup.com

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