Survey Finds U.S. Uninsured Rate Plateaued at 11.9% in 2015
For the survey, Gallup conducted phone interviews between Oct. 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2015, with a random sample of 42,998 U.S. adults.
According to the survey, the share of uninsured U.S. adults was 11.9% in the last three months of 2015, a figure that was essentially unchanged since the beginning of the year. The results showed that the uninsured rate dropped to 11.4% between April 2015 and June 2015, then increased slightly throughout the rest of the year. The increase was the first noted by the survey since the ACA's coverage expansions took effect in 2013.
According to Gallup, the findings indicate that after a sharp drop in 2014, the country's uninsured rate has now plateaued. Gallup noted, "This validates concerns that similarly large reductions may not be possible in the future because the remaining uninsured are harder to reach or less inclined to become insured." The group added, "Future reductions will likely require significant outreach and expanded programs targeting those who have not yet taken advantage."
Still, Gallup predicted another decline in the uninsured rate during the first three months of this year but noted that it is unclear how significant that decline will be.
Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said he "believe[s] the health law has crossed the threshold of sustainability, but its future success depends on growing enrollment." He noted, "A strong open enrollment period would allow the Obama administration to go out on a high note," while "[w]eak enrollment could intensify the debate over the [ACA], particularly as the general election approaches."
The Obama administration did not directly respond to the survey results. However, CMS spokesperson Aaron Albright noted that the ACA "has led to millions of Americans getting access to quality and affordable health coverage" (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.