The portion of young adults without health insurance has leveled off to about 24 percent, according to a new Gallup-Healthways poll.
The uninsured rate for 18- to 25-year-olds began declining in September 2010. That's when the health care reform provision went into effect allowing adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents' health plans. The rate of uninsured in this age group fell from 28 percent to 26.3 percent in the fourth quarter of that year, and declined to 24 percent in the first quarter of 2011. The percentage of uninsured young adults has remained at roughly that level ever since.
The uninsured rate for 26- to 64-year-olds has also leveled off, according to the poll, but remains at a higher rate than in January 2008, when Gallup and Healthways started tracking Americans' health insurance coverage. About 20 percent of Americans in this age group report not having health insurance in the last year, compared to 15 percent in early 2008.
The percentage of seniors who are uninsured has remained about the same over the past four years. Because they qualify for Medicare, just 3 percent of adults 65 and older report lacking health insurance.
Overall, the percentage of all U.S. adults without health insurance was 17.3 percent in the first quarter of 2012, similar to its levels for the past year, but up from 14.6 percent in early 2008. Some of the increase in the uninsured could reflect a change in how Gallup conducts the survey. Since April 2011, the firm has included more respondents in the survey who do not have landline telephone service and instead rely on cellphones.
Meanwhile, the percentage of adults who get their health insurance through an employer has fallen to 44.5 percent from almost 50 percent four years ago. The percentage who have a government plan through Medicare, Medicaid or military/veterans benefits has increased in the last four years, to 25.3 percent from about 23 percent.