Gallup Poll buries the lede: Uninsured down to 12.9% in first half of April!

Hat Tip To: 

A bunch of people have sent me this link to the latest Gallop poll, which is certainly welcome news but isn't exactly unexpected:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The uninsured rate among adults aged 18 and older in the states that have chosen to expand Medicaid and set up their own exchanges in the health insurance marketplace has declined significantly more this year than in the remaining states that have not done so. The uninsured rate, on average, declined 2.5 percentage points in the 21 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have implemented both of these measures, compared with a 0.8-point drop across the 29 states that have taken only one or neither of these actions.

So, this is awesome news. Aside from the obvious, though, let's look at the other key stats:

There has been a statistically significant and meaningfully large decline in the percentage of uninsured U.S. adults. The uninsured rate peaked at 18.0% in the third quarter of 2013, the highest rate measured since Gallup and Healthways began tracking in 2008. The uninsured rate has been consistently trending downward since then, falling to 15.0% in March and further to 12.9% for April 1-14 polling. If the rate for the first half of April holds throughout the month, it will be the lowest monthly uninsured rate in 76 months of tracking.

Whoa. 12.9% for the first half of April? Considering that there will still be some stragglers coming in after 4/14 from Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii, Minnesota, DC and possibly a few other states, plus oddball enrollees who submitted paper applications by April 7th and so on, I think it's safe to say that this number will indeed hold. For that matter, depending on how the question was worded, I'm assuming that some people whose policies don't actually kick in until May might have said that they aren't currently insured while others answered that they are. This suggests that the May polling will see an even more impressive drop in the uninsured.

Uninsured rates are declining faster in some states than in others. As Dan Witters reported on this morning, the uninsured rate in the 21 states (and the District of Columbia) that have chosen to expand Medicaid and set up a locally managed marketplace exchange has dropped three times as much as the rate in states that didn’t take these actions. This finding suggests that these mechanisms seem to be working. 

Again, not exactly a shocker there.

Half of newly insured Americans got their insurance through an exchange. Gallup asked Americans who said they got a new policy in 2014 whether they had a policy in 2013. Four percent of Americans did not have a policy previously and became insured for the first time this year. Of these Americans, about half (2.1%) say they purchased their plan through a federal or state exchange. The other half of newly insured Americans got insurance through other sources, such as an employer, Medicaid expansion, or private insurance companies.

Yup, looks like it's working to me.

The newly insured skew slightly younger, but not healthier. Young and healthy Americans are an important target in public outreach efforts for enrollment, because they essentially subsidize the cost of insurance for those who are older and less healthy. Frank Newport’s analysis of Gallup Daily tracking data shows that newly insured Americans are fairly evenly distributed across 18- to 64-year-olds, with a slight to moderate skew toward younger Americans aged 18 to 29 years. Using a measure of self-reported health status, Gallup found that the newly insured in 2014 mirror the health of the overall population, meaning they are neither sicker nor healthier. Not surprisingly, the newly insured also tend to have lower incomes and are more likely to be Democrats than the general U.S. adult population.

Now there's an irony for you: For all the fuss made about how incredibly important it was for plenty of "Young Invincibles" to enroll, it turns out that they got the young...just not the invincible. Ah, well.