Topics
More on Reimbursement

Uninsured rate at its lowest in 8 years, Gallup poll says

Largest increase in insured is among those paying for a plan themselves, data shows.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/frances1972/2247431698"> frances1972 </a>Photo by frances1972

A new Gallup poll shows that the uninsured rate is at its lowest in eight years, after leveling off in 2015.

The largest increase in the number of insured adults has occurred among those paying for a plan themselves, according to Gallup.

In the first quarter of 2016, 21.8 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 had a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member, up a little more than 4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the Gallup poll.

HIMSS20 Digital

Learn on-demand, earn credit, find products and solutions. Get Started >>

The uninsured rate has declined significantly since late 2013, just before the provision of the Affordable Care Act took effect requiring  adults to obtain health insurance, Gallup said.

[Also: IRS could help find many uninsured people, but doesn't]

The rate then leveled off in 2015, which was not surprising to  healthcare policy watchers as those who remained uninsured were among the most difficult to insure, the Gallup report said.

However, the number of uninsured adults is now at a record low since Gallup began tracking the uninsured rate in 2008, according to the report by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The April 7 report shows that the uninsured rate is 11 percent for the first quarter of the year, compared to 11.9 percent for the fourth quarter 2015.

The drop in the first quarter of 2016 suggests that the rate may continue to decline in future years, although less markedly and maybe only in the first quarter of each year, as U.S. adults continue to make use of the exchanges to obtain health insurance, Gallup said.

Gallup and Healthways focused their survey on adults aged 18 to 64 because nearly all Americans 65 and older have Medicare.

[Also: 'Trumpcare' over Obamacare too costly, bad for uninsured, says fiscal watchdog group]

Results for the first quarter are based on nearly 45,000 interviews Jan. 2 to March 31, 2016.

The uninsured rate is down most among Hispanics and blacks.

The rate among Hispanics was 28.3 percent in the first quarter of 2016, down 10.4 points from the fourth quarter of 2013, Gallup said.

Similarly, the uninsured rate among blacks has declined 9.5 points over this same period to its current 11.4 percent.

[Also: Uninsured rate for Hispanic children hits record low]

The uninsured rate for whites in 2016 is 6.4 percent, a change of 5.5 points from 2013.

For those making less than $36,000 a year, 20 percent are currently uninsured, compared to 8.2 percent of those earning $36,000 to $89,999 a year and 2.9 percent of those making $90,000 plus a year.

The percentage without health insurance in the second quarter of 2016 may decline slightly, the Gallup poll said, as it will be the first quarterly measurement after the exchanges closed.

The percentage of U.S. adults with Medicaid has also increased to 9.4 percent in the first quarter of 2016, up 2.5 points from the fourth quarter of 2013.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse