Health Insurers to Target the 11.7% of Uninsured Americans

BY Courtney Huckabay
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The percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance grew in the second quarter of 2017 to 11.7%, up from 11.3% in the first quarter. The uninsured rate, measured by Gallup and Sharecare since 2008, had reached a record low of 10.9% in the third and fourth quarters of 2016.

Despite upticks in the uninsured rate in each of the first two quarters of 2017, the percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance is still 6.3 percentage points lower than it was at its peak in the third quarter of 2013. The uninsured rate reached 18% that quarter, just before the health insurance exchanges opened in October 2013. Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate required Americans to obtain coverage or pay a tax penalty.

Health insurance sellers can advertise affordable rates to the uninsured. The new AudienceSCAN survey reported 12.3% of Americans plan to pay for health insurance out of their own pockets this year.

Several marketplace factors could be contributing to the uptick in the uninsured rate since the second half of 2016. Rising insurance premiums could be causing some Americans to forgo insurance, especially those who fail to qualify for federal subsidies. Furthermore, some insurance companies are leaving the ACA marketplace, and the lack of competition could be driving up the cost of plans for consumers.

Letting Health Insurance Buyers know about plans and packages through the snail mail could be a great way to introduce agents. The new AudienceSCAN study revealed 40% of adults took action after receiving ads/​coupons in their mailboxes in the past month.

Since the last quarter of 2016, the increase in the percentage of uninsured, though only 0.8 points overall, has been concentrated among younger adults. The uninsured rate has risen 1.9 points among those aged 18–25 and 1.5 points for those aged 26–34 since the end of 2016. These young adults are, perhaps, particularly responsive to rising premiums in the individual healthcare markets. For some young adults, the tax penalty for not carrying health coverage may be more financially appealing than paying costly premiums on coverage they need less frequently than older Americans.

Young adults will see insurers' spots on TV. The new AudienceSCAN survey found 35% of Health Insurance Buyers took action after watching television (over-​the-​air, online, mobile or tablet) commercials in the past month.

Since the last quarter of 2016, the number of adults under age 65 who report that they or a family member fully paid for their own plan — many of whom purchased coverage on ACA exchanges — has fallen 0.7 points, the largest change across all sources of healthcare coverage.

Since the individual mandate took effect, the largest change in how insured Americans are obtaining their coverage has been in those fully paying for their own plans. The proportion of those who are insured who are in this group has grown by three points since the last quarter of 2013, from 17.6% to 20.6%, likely reflecting purchases of health coverage on the marketplace insurance exchanges introduced by the ACA.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.