Health Care Law Has Yet to Boost Number of Insured, Gallup Report

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The health care law has done little thus far to impact coverage for older Americans, and the number of uninsured remains high, according to a survey released by Gallup today.

About 17.3 percent of Americans did not have health insurance as of the last quarter, one of the highest numbers on record. The drop in coverage was driven largely by an increase in the number of uninsured young people between the ages of 18 and 26. Gallup, however, said the number could be high because it had higher cell phone-only respondents, which likely included more young adults.

Some of the main components of the Affordable Care Act, such as tax credits for small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees, and the establishment of a pre-existing condition insurance plan, have done little to boost Americans’ health coverage, the survey found.

One part of the health care law, however, did appear to have a positive impact. There was an increase in the number of 25 to 64-year-olds with health insurance, which Gallup attributed to the new law that allows parents to keep their children on their insurance until 26 years of age.

Thanks to steady high unemployment, the percentage of Americans who got their health coverage from employers dropped to 44.5 percent. Just two years ago, more than half of all Americans had employer-provided health insurance. Meanwhile, more than a quarter percent of U.S. population relies on government-sponsored health coverage.

“The percentage of Americans with government health insurance remains significantly higher than in 2008,” the report said. “The increase in government health insurance has occurred in tandem with the increasing percentage of Americans without health insurance and the decreasing percentage who get coverage from their employer.”

The report came as the debate over whether the health care law should be repealed gained momentum. Most Republican presidential candidates support repealing the entire law.

The Affordable Care Act has also declined in popularity, even among Democrats.  Americans’ favorable view of the health care law has dropped to a new low not seen since the law was passed in March 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation found in its survey last month.