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Gallup Poll Finds Fewer Young Adults Lack Health Insurance

By Jane Norman, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

May 4, 2011 -- The percentage of young adults going without health insurance took a big drop, according to a recently released Gallup poll.

Supporters of the health care law said it's due to a provision that allows families to keep their adult children on their policies.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index said 24 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 26 who were polled between January and April said they lacked insurance.

That's down from 28 percent in 2010, 28.6 percent in 2009 and 27.2 percent in 2008, the poll said. In addition, young adults were a unique group in that their number of uninsured actually went down.

"Previously, 18- to 26-year-olds were the most likely of all age groups to be uninsured," pollsters said in their analysis of the results. "Those aged 27 to 35 have now taken that place. Additionally, the percentage of uninsured in every age group—except 18-to 26-year-olds—has so far in 2011 increased or remained unchanged."

Tobin Van Ostern of the group Campus Progress, part of the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, said the poll results follow a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation that 600,000 young adults have gotten insurance coverage under their parents' policies since the requirement in the health law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) went into effect in September.

"This safety net helps young adults stay healthy in a struggling economy, and gives parents peace of mind," said Van Ostern. "We are encouraged that young adults, their parents and insurance companies alike have recognized: This common-sense provision is truly a win-win."

The Gallup results were based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 102,584 adults aged 18 and older living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample, the maximum margin of error was plus or minus 1 percent, though smaller samples would have a larger margin of error.

Gallup poll (pdf)

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