Thursday, April 07, 2016

Notes on Gallup's latest health insurance status polling

Gallup announced today that the U.S  uninsurance rate, as reflected in its daily surveying, fell to its lowest rate yet recorded in the first quarter of 2016, 11.0% for all adults. Gallup has been conducting this survey in partnership with Healthways since 2008.

Just for the hell of it, I'm going to try a few I'm notes from my phone [updated 4/8/16]:

1. While Gallup headlines a drop from Q1 2015 (11.9%) to Q1 2016 (11.0%), a better contrast is probably with Q2 2015 (11.4%). In 2015, open enrollment did not end until the third week in February; this year it was over on Jan. 31. By Q4 of last year Gallup found that the uninsurance rate had ticked up to 11.9%. There will probably be some attrition this year as well -- though perhaps a bit less, as the ACA marketplace this year for the first time recorded no-pays and terminations more or less as they happened during open enrollment.

2. Proportionately, the uninsurance rate has been cut more for people with incomes  over $90,000 than for any other group. Since Q4 2013 it's been cut in half, from 5.8% to 2.9%, and much of that drop has occurred since Q2 2015, when it was 3.6%. For lower income groups the drop was more in the neighborhood of 30-35%%, though of course they had much further to fall. For those with incomes under $36,000, Gallup reported an uninsurance rate of 20%, down from 30.7% in Q4 2013, a 35% drop. For those in $36-90,000 range, the reported drop is from 11.7% to 8.2%, down 30%. Uninsurance in that mid-range income group has stayed flat (according to Gallup) since Q2 of last year, while the lower income group has made further progress -- in fact, accounting for all recorded progress among income groups (down from 20.8% to 20.0%).

3. Gallup shows a sharp increase since Q4 2013 in people under age 65 with disability Medicare, the percentage rising from 6.1% to 7.6%. That increase had already occurred by Q2 last year.  It seems impossibly high: CBO pegs disability Medicare at 9 million, whereas 7.6% of adults under 65 would be about 15 million.  Those with military or veteran's insurance has also reportedly increased markedly, from 4.6% in Q4 2013 to 4.9% in Q2 2015 and 5.2% in Q1 2016.

4. There's also a significant drop in the uninsured rate for those over age 65, from 2.0% to 1.6%. Is that because of the mandate, a drop in Medicare-ineligible noncitizens, or both? Would the surge of baby boomers into Mediare include a lower percentage of those who are ineligible or don't sign up? Or is this just statistical just statistical noise?


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