With members of the House and Senate debating the merits of a government-financed "public-option" for health insurance, newly released data from Gallup show that while the vast majority of Americans get their health insurance through their employers, private purchase or some other way, a sizable number of adults already get their health coverage from the government.
Overall, 29 percent of adults with health insurance get their coverage from the government, through Medicaid, medicare or military or veterans' coverage. A majority, 57 percent have coverage through their employer, while 13 percent get it some other way.
Nearly eight in 10 (77 percent) seniors get their health insurance through the government, but even among those under age 65, as many are covered by the government (15 percent) as buy insurance on their own or have it through a source other than their employer (15 percent). Seven in 10 adults under age 65 get their coverage through their employer or union.
Beyond age differences, there are some small differences by party identification. Working-age Republicans are more apt to get their insurance through their employers (74 percent) than Democrats (69 percent) and independents (68 percent). And about one in six 18-64 year old Democrats and independents (16 percent) said they get coverage through the government, compared with about one in 10 Republicans (11 percent).
Among seniors, however, the pattern runs the other way. Republicans were slightly more likely to be insured through government means (79 percent) while older Democrats (76 percent) and independents (77 percent) were less apt to rely on Uncle Sam.
Gallup's data are from their June 2009 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index interviewing, and include interviews with approximately 26,216 adults.