First, the caveat: at this very early stage in the implementation, and more to the point, the rollout of the data on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we should all proceed with caution.  That is especially true when we get several studies, or surveys from different sources, with different samples, using different methods, and in particular using samples that are in general relatively small in comparison to social scientists and health researchers are used to seeing in doing health policy analysis (but, to be fair, NOT small for polling data).

That said, the surveys we are seeing seem to be coming in with a degree of collective similarity in their findings, even at this early stage.  So that seems important. 

Add to this the latest finding which came out today (4/17) from Gallup, using a relatively large national survey of over 20,000 adults. Gallup finds that 4% of adults are newly insured in 2014, that is, they did not have health insurance in 2013.  (They report 11.8% got a new health insurance policy, but several changed health insurance policies, leaving 4% of adults who were uninsured that are newly insured.)  This generally agrees with the Gallup finding from their previous survey, which found a rapid drop in the uninsured rate from 18% to 15.6% from September 2013 to early 2014. 

But perhaps the most significant finding in the new Gallup survey is this one:

  • the newly insured are YOUNGER than the adult population (30% of newly insured are age 18-29, while only 21% of the national adult population is age 18-29).
To realize why this is so important, remember that there has been almost an endless drumbeat of worry, complaints, and predictions that the new marketplaces will be dominated by older persons, and sicker persons, and that young people will stay away, refuse to become insured.  This problem is described by health economists as the "adverse selection" problem that could lead to huge problems for insurance markets (the so-called "death spiral"), but obviously if young people are signing up this is less likely to happen.  Moreover:

  • Gallup finds that newly insured in the marketplaces, and all the newly insured have health status that "mirrors" (is not different in a statistically significant way) in the health status of national adult population population.
Time will tell whether these early findings play out.  However, as noted, earlier findings from the Urban Institute, RAND, and Gallup tend to find similar results -- significant drops in the uninsured, in just about six months.