In U.S., Uninsured Rate Shows Initial Decline in 2014

In U.S., Uninsured Rate Shows Initial Decline in 2014

by Jenna Levy

Uninsured rate drops most among the unemployed and nonwhites

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. uninsured rate is 16.1% so far in January, modestly down from 17.3% in December after the Affordable Care Act's requirement for Americans to have health insurance took effect on Jan. 1. The percentage of uninsured adults aged 18 and older for Jan. 2-19 is slightly lower than what Gallup has measured in any month since December 2012.

Monthly Averages of Uninsured Americans

These data are based on over 9,000 interviews with American adults collected Jan. 2-19, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. This is a preliminary snapshot of the uninsured rate in January 2014, after several provisions of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," took effect. The long-term impact of the Affordable Care Act on the uninsured will take months to determine.

Uninsured Rate Drops Most Among Unemployed, Nonwhites

The uninsured rate so far in January has declined more among those who are unemployed than it has among those who are employed. The unemployed remain the subgroup with the highest uninsured rate at 34.1%, but the initial decline among this group suggests the healthcare law may be working as intended for unemployed adults. Additionally, the uninsured rate has fallen more among nonwhites than whites. The uninsured rate among nonwhites so far in January is 26.5%, compared with 29.1% in December 2013.

These preliminary results indicate that, so far, uninsured rates have not declined disproportionately among younger Americans, who continue to be more likely to be uninsured than older Americans.

Percentage of Uninsured Americans by Subgroup


Preliminary results from the first 19 days of January show the U.S. uninsured rate has modestly declined since the health insurance mandate went into effect at the beginning of the year. The uninsured rate has fluctuated at other points over the past several years, so it is unclear if this small decline is a reflection of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that took effect on Jan. 1, or if this is part of a trend based on other reasons.

Still, with only 2.1 million Americans newly enrolled in plans through the exchanges as of Dec. 28, 2013, the Obama administration and other proponents of the new healthcare law have a long way to go in hopes of reaching the goal of increasing the number of Americans who have health coverage.

Gallup will continue to track the U.S. uninsured rate in the weeks and months ahead.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

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

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 2-19, 2014, with a random sample of 9,145 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

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

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