Young adults were the only major demographic to buck the trend, Gallup study finds.
January 25, 2012—The proportion of American adults lacking health insurance coverage climbed to 17.1 percent last year, the highest level since the Gallup Organization and the disease-management company Healthways began tracking the indicator five years ago, the companies reported yesterday.
The new study, whose findings dovetail with those reported by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Commonwealth Fund last September, suggests that pressure is rising on 340B hospitals, health clinics and other safety-net providers to stretch their scarce financial resources even further.
Gallup said the national adult uninsured rate was 14.8 percent in 2008, the year the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy. It climbed to 16.2 percent in 2009, edged up to 16.4 percent in 2010, and then rose markedly again last year.
The monthly percentage of uninsured adults increased to 17.7 percent in December 2011, Gallup said. The uninsured rate was 17 percent or higher in most months in 2011.
Hispanic Americans continue to be the most likely to be uninsured, Gallup said, with 40.7 percent going without health coverage in 2011, up from 37 percent in 2008. The uninsured rate for adults with incomes below $36,000 was 30.5 percent in 2011, up from 26.4 percent in 2008. For non-Hispanic blacks, the rate last year was 20.9 percent, up from 17.6 percent in 2008.
The percentage of uninsured young adults, those aged 18 to 25, declined from 27.6 percent in 2010 to 24.5 percent last year. The decrease, Gallup noted, coincided with the implementation of an Affordable Care Act provision that allows this age group to stay on their parents' plans.