Gallup’s Estimates of Uninsurance No Cause for Applause

Gallup has just released its latest health-insurance survey, which reports that the proportion of uninsured Americans continues to be only 13.4 percent, the lowest since the survey began in 2008. This is the survey Obamacare cheerleaders love, although it significantly overstates the proportion of insured people when compared with other, longer standing, and scholarly surveys. I’ve addressed this previously and will not re-hash my case.


However, I note (as Gallup does) that the number of presumably Medicare-eligible people (65-years old and over) without health insurance dropped from 2.8 percent to 2.0 percent since the previous quarter. This drop of 28 percent is inexplicable, because there has been no change to Medicare eligibility since the beginning of 2014, and invites us to question the overall accuracy of the survey.

Nevertheless, Gallup also appears to think that 13.4 percent uninsured is the best that will be achieved. If so, that is a pathetic result. Recall that the Gallup survey began in 2008, and the Great Recession started in December 2007. So, the 14.6 percent and 14.4 percent uninsured figures at the start of the Gallup graph occurred when the economy was already hitting the skids. If Obamacare can only improve this by one percentage point, it is hardly worth all the sturm und drang.

Comments (10)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    I find it interesting that around the end of the 3rd quarter 2013, the uninsured rate surged to 18%.

    • Matthew says:

      I agree Devon. We see the highest rate of uninsured right before ObamaCare kicks in and plummets to 13.4%. I wonder what that could be the result of.

      • Phill S says:

        I think it could be a result of all those people (5 million plans) who got kicked off of their old plans because they did not meet the “minimum requirements” of Obamacare.

        • Ken Kelly says:

          That can’t be. People received 90 days notice – the wave of cancellations in the fall were for plans being terminated as of Jan 1, 2014.

  2. James M. says:

    There is no cause for applause yet indeed. While the uninsured rate is the lowest it has been for awhile, like mentioned in the post, it’s only one percentage point lower than in 07-08. It’s progress, but if they really want to celebrate, it should see a large drop in the uninsured, perhaps like in the single digits.

    • Jay says:

      Especially given the cost of health spending from ObamaCare. If health spending increases by so much, I think the uninsured rate should be a bit lower than 13.4%, if it is as successful as the government wants us to believe.

  3. SPM says:

    I think that rates of uninsured are always tough to measure, especially when surveys are not careful with presently uninsured vs long-term uninsured. But, let’s assume this survey is largely accurate. It doesn’t explain why there was a surge, as Devon noted, in Q3 2013, nor why the rate hasn’t fallen lower today. After all, isn’t health insurance not legally mandated?

  4. Steve says:

    Yes, SPM, it is now the law that we have to get health insurance, whether we want to buy it or not. Of course, since the administration has lawlessly changed the rules so many times since its passage, employers do not have to start providing coverage until 2016. Let’s see how that affects the rate of insurance.

  5. Mr. Freedom says:

    It’s also going to be interesting to see how many people keep paying their premiums over the long haul, and how accurately are such statistics going to be measured.

  6. Ken Kelly says:

    “However, I note (as Gallup does) that the number of presumably Medicare-eligible people (65-years old and over) without health insurance dropped from 2.8 percent to 2.0 percent since the previous quarter.”

    This is not a mystery. A small fraction of over-64’s are not eligible for medicare, which has a work history requirement (satisfiable by spouse) or, failing that, a residency requirement to even buy in.

    Some small number 65+ year olds are certainly benefiting from the ACA.