Healthcare Insecurity at an All Time Low, Gallup Finds

The number of individuals experiencing difficulty paying for healthcare or medicines has hit a record low since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The number of individuals experiencing difficulty paying for healthcare or medicines has hit a record low since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to a new survey, the percentage of individuals who are healthcare insecure currently sits at 15.5%, which is down from 2013’s record of 18.7%.

The study authors defined healthcare insecurity as those individuals who had reported at least once in the last 12 months not having enough money to pay for necessary healthcare or medicines for either themselves or a family member. Gallup and Healthways began tracking healthcare insecurity in 2008 and found the percentage remained consistent at 18.7% until 2013. Since then, the average dropped to 16.4% in the following years and most recently to its record low of 15.5%. The study was a part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, which surveyed nearly 45,000 adult Americans by phone interviews between January 1 and March 31, 2016.

The percentage of healthcare insecure dropped 3.5 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013. According to research, the decline in healthcare insecurity mirrors the drop in the percentage of uninsured Americans, which fell from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 11% in the first quarter of 2016. The decrease in uninsured Americans occurred during the (ACA)’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance.

Study authors also suggested that an improving economy could have helped in the recent decline of healthcare insecurity. The report said that decreasing gas prices may be less burdensome to individuals, allowing them to spend the money on healthcare instead. Also included was a study that found nearly half of all Americans reported to have either “excellent” or “good” financial status, which is a statistic the nation hasn’t seen since 2008.

Additionally, the report examined healthcare insecurity among individuals with and without health insurance. The study found that those without healthcare were 3 times more likely to struggle to pay for healthcare costs; however, the numbers for both groups have declined since 2013. 41.8% of uninsured Americans said to have struggled to pay for healthcare costs, as compared to 12.3% of those with insurance.

The report explained that while the ACA is a likely contributor to the decrease in uninsured and healthcare insecure Americans, the upcoming election will be crucial in determining how much longer the ACA is here to stay. If repealed, an Urban Institute report found that 24 million Americans could be without insurance by 2020, which the authors warned would ultimately have reversing impacts on the progress of those uninsured and healthcare insecure.