US

Record number of adults using government insurance in 2012, Gallup finds

Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

More adults are on government health insurance than in 2008, according to Gallup. This includes people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and military or veteran’s insurance.

Overall, the percentage of adults 18 and older reporting health coverage through government programs was at 26.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the highest Gallup has ever recorded. It has since dropped slightly to 25.7 percent in the second quarter of 2012.

For some perspective, it was 22.9 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

In 2012, 19.7 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25 say they receive health insurance from a government program, up from 18.9 percent last year.

The increase becomes even greater when compared to 2008 when 16.3 percent said they received health insurance from a government program. Gallup notes that one reason for such high numbers among young adults may be high unemployment.

Adults ages 26 to 64 are also finding themselves increasingly reliant on government insurance. 13.4 percent of this group reported having government-based health insurance so far this year, up from 12.6 percent last year and much higher than 11.2 percent in 2008.

However, as some young adults find themselves reliant on government insurance, an increasing percentage are receiving employer-based health care as well.  In 2012, 31.9 percent of young adults ages 18 to 25 have reported they receive employer-based insurance, up from 31.1 percent last year.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that overall coverage for adults ages 19 to 25 has increased about 10 percent for this group from 64.4 percent to 74.8 percent between September 2010 and November 2011.

Since 2010, young adults have seen increased coverage in part because provisions in the Affordable Care Act allow them to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.

Nearly three million young adults aged 19 to 25 obtained coverage because of the extended dependent coverage provision of the ACA, with nearly all of the increase in coverage coming from private insurance.

Similarly, the Commonwealth Fund found that between November 2010 and November 2011, 13.7 million young adults under age 26 opted to stay on their parents’ health insurance, including 6.6 million who would have been unable to without the ACA provision.

However, HHS notes that the fund’s numbers are greater because they include “some individuals who were already insured, often through their own private coverage.”

Even though the ACA has helped adults under age 26, it has been a mixed bag for older adults.

Gallup reports that the percentage of adults aged 26 to 64 receiving employer-based insurance shrank to 55.9 percent in 2012 from 56.7 percent in 2011. However, the decrease is even larger when compared to 2008 when 61.6 percent received employer-based insurance.

Furthermore, the number of 26 to 35-year-olds covered by insurance actually decreased during the same period that young adult coverage was growing. According to the HHS, coverage for that group shrank from 72.3 percent in the third quarter of 2010 to 71.8 percent by the end of 2011.

“It is clear, though, that one part of the law — the piece allowing those up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans — has already had a significant effect,” Gallup notes.  “Those who are older, though, have become more likely to be uninsured — mainly due to fewer reporting that they are getting insurance from an employer.”

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