Well-Being

In U.S., 1 in 4 Adults Have Government Health Insurance

At least 1 in 10 American adults across all age groups have government healthcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As House Republicans put forth a budget proposal that seeks to reshape the government-run healthcare programs Medicare and Medicaid, Gallup finds that 1 in 4 U.S. adults, including at least 1 in 10 American adults across all age groups, benefit from one of these programs or military/veterans' benefits. Seniors and young adults are the most likely to report having government-based health insurance.

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Gallup has documented an increase in government-supplied health coverage and decrease in employer-based insurance since the 2008 economic collapse. In the first three months of 2011, 25.7% of all Americans said they have government health insurance. This is about the same as the 25.3% in 2010, but up from 24.6% in 2009 and 23.4% in 2008.

These data, collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, reveal that government health insurance has increased among all age groups -- not just seniors -- which suggests the rise in the government rolls is tied more to joblessness than aging baby boomers.

Beyond Seniors: Blacks Benefit Most From Government Healthcare

One in four black Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 get their health insurance from the government, making them the most likely group of those analyzed in the country in that age range to do so.

Those who are the least educated and have the lowest incomes -- which are overlapping groups -- are also among the most likely to receive healthcare through Medicare, Medicaid, or military/veterans' benefits.

Medicaid is specifically for low-income Americans, so that non-seniors making less than $36,000 per year are among the most likely to have government care isn't surprising. The programs also extend to higher income groups: 9.1% of those who make between $36,000 and $74,999 per year have government coverage, as do 6.6% of those in the highest income group.

Americans with the highest education and income levels are the least likely to have healthcare from a government-run program.

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Bottom Line

The House Republicans' "Path to Prosperity" budget resolution stands little chance of passage with Democrats in charge of the Senate and White House. It has nonetheless stirred debate about how -- and how much -- to reform and scale back Medicare and Medicaid as part of a broader plan to reduce the federal budget deficit. Any plans that seek to make changes to those programs entail political risk, especially since three-fourths of seniors -- who are among the most likely to show up on Election Day -- get their healthcare from a government plan. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data also highlight that it is those with little money and education that stand to be affected the most by changes to government health insurance programs.

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 Jan. 2-March 31, 2011, with a random sample of 52,144 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/.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/146984/Adults-Government-Health-Insurance.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030