Well-Being

U.S. Employer-Based Health Coverage Continues to Decline

by Elizabeth Mendes

Nationwide, 16.3% of U.S. adults were uninsured in February

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The percentage of Americans who report getting health insurance from their employer has been steadily decreasing over the past three years, dropping to a low of 44.6% in February. Over the same time period, the percentage of Americans covered by government healthcare -- Medicare, Medicaid, or military/veterans' benefits -- has been increasing and now includes slightly more than one in four American adults.

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The decline in employer-based coverage and increase in government healthcare has occurred in tandem with rising unemployment. Additionally, government healthcare coverage has increased among all age groups, not just seniors, suggesting that unemployment rather than aging baby boomers is contributing more to the uptick in the number of Americans with government healthcare.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index began tracking American adults' healthcare coverage in January 2008. Nearly one in six American adults (16.3%) were uninsured in February, a figure that has been fairly steady since February 2009

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The percentage of American adults who are uninsured increased significantly in the fall of 2008, amid the economic downturn, and first rose above 16% in February 2009, where it has largely stayed since.

Bottom Line

The ultimate fate of the new healthcare legislation is yet to be determined as individual states and the Republicans in Congress continue to mount challenges to the law. States are also facing severe financial problems related to Medicaid programs, causing them to cut healthcare coverage to many low-income residents, which could affect the aggregate number of Americans who are uninsured. Gallup and Healthways will continue to monitor health insurance coverage in the United States and regularly report updates on Gallup.com.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks U.S. wellbeing and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Feb. 1-28, 2011, with a random sample of 27,213 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 200 cell phone respondents and 800 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.

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