Thursday, January 23, 2014

Insurance coverage among adults increases

Gallup has released a new poll reporting that health insurance coverage among American adults increased modestly in January 2014, the first month that the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange and expanded Medicaid policies were operating.

The graph below shows the estimates over time of the percentage of Americans who were uninsured--the insurance rate is 100 minus these figures and trends in the opposite direction.*

The poll, which interviewed 9,000 U.S. adults, has a sampling error, so the actual January figure is likely somewhere within 1 percent up or down of the reported figure.

Demographic breakdowns in the poll indicate that insurance coverage increased among all groups, with women, non-whites, people aged 35-64, middle-income families, and the unemployed experiencing the greatest gains in coverage.

Although the figures are consistent with the ACA improving health care coverage (that is, with increases in health exchange and Medicaid coverage outweighing the cancellation of some private plans and long-standing trends that had reduced private coverage), it's still too early to tell from poll results. As the chart above shows, sampling error causes the estimates to bounce around from month to month.

*Update 1/23/14 9:56 a.m.: Following up on a suggestion by Andy Brod, the post has been updated to clarify that the graph shows the uninsurance rate.