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Monday, July 7, 2014

A New Way to Look at Well-Being

After six years of measuring and reporting on well-being and health in the U.S., Gallup and Healthways in January 2014 decided to propel the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index to the next level. In short, we’ve given the way we measure well-being a thorough makeover. The updated survey reflects countless hours of research conducted by Gallup and Healthways experts to advance the science of well-being. This research increases the power and scope of the Well-Being Index, which now predicts more key health and business outcomes and provides more actionable insights to leaders and individuals than ever before.

The revamped survey includes 27 brand new questions on everything from perceptions of physical appearance to weekly alcohol consumption; from having an inspiring leader to time spent taking vacations with loved ones. We delve into community pride and financial worry as well.

And there should be no cause for worry -- we will still track and report on many of the metrics you have grown accustomed to reading about on Gallup.com throughout the years, including life evaluations, emotional health, chronic conditions, obesity, health insurance, and healthy behaviors. Furthermore, Gallup will still analyze and report on well-being data at the state level each year as part of our popular “State of the States” series and interactive. Our U.S. community well-being series, where we track how your city fares on a variety of well-being metrics, is also here to stay.

The updated Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is organized into five elements of well-being:

  1. Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals.
  2. Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life.
  3. Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security.
  4. Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community. 
  5. Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily.
You can read about how Americans are doing on each of these well-being elements today on Gallup.com.
 
The news doesn’t stop there. Gallup and Healthways are expanding their well-being research beyond the United States, measuring well-being in 135 countries worldwide. Check back later this summer for updates on our upcoming launch of global well-being data on Gallup.com.
 
We are excited about this new treasure trove of well-being data and the opportunities it gives us to bring you fresh, actionable well-being insights. To make sure you are among the first to get Gallup’s well-being articles, sign up for Gallup News alerts.

Read a related article in the Gallup Business Journal, “What Your Workplace Wellness Programs Are Missing."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is the Affordable Care Act Working?

By Alyssa Brown, Deputy Editor

About 7.26 million Americans have gotten health insurance coverage since late last year and 4% of Americans became insured for the first time in 2014.

These findings were announced at “An Inside Look at Gallup’s Healthcare and ACA Data,” an event held today at Gallup’s World Headquarters in Washington D.C. Research Director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Dan Witters and Gallup’s Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport shared new data from the largest and most comprehensive poll to date assessing the impact of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare.”

While Republican leaders often give low estimates and Democratic leaders give high estimates for how many people have become insured since the ACA was implemented, Gallup surveys at least 500 Americans every night through the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and another 500 through the Gallup Daily tracking survey to track changes in the percentage of uninsured Americans in real time.

Here are some key findings from the event that begin to answer the question of whether the ACA is meeting its objective of insuring more Americans:

  • There has been a statistically significant and meaningfully large decline in the percentage of uninsured U.S. adults. The uninsured rate peaked at 18.0% in the third quarter of 2013, the highest rate measured since Gallup and Healthways began tracking in 2008. The uninsured rate has been consistently trending downward since then, falling to 15.0% in March and further to 12.9% for April 1-14 polling. If the rate for the first half of April holds throughout the month, it will be the lowest monthly uninsured rate in 76 months of tracking.
  • The uninsured rate within all major racial and ethnic groups has declined since late 2013. However, not all groups are benefiting equally. The uninsured rate among Hispanics has dropped 4.4 percentage points to 37%, but this rate is still, by far, the highest across major racial and ethnic subgroups.
  • Uninsured rates are declining faster in some states than in others. As Dan Witters reported on Gallup.com this morning, the uninsured rate in the 21 states (and the District of Columbia) that have chosen to expand Medicaid and set up a locally managed marketplace exchange has dropped three times as much as the rate in states that didn’t take these actions. This finding suggests that these mechanisms seem to be working. 
  • Half of newly insured Americans got their insurance through an exchange. Gallup asked Americans who said they got a new policy in 2014 whether they had a policy in 2013. Four percent of Americans did not have a policy previously and became insured for the first time this year. Of these Americans, about half (2.1%) say they purchased their plan through a federal or state exchange. The other half of newly insured Americans got insurance through other sources, such as an employer, Medicaid expansion, or private insurance companies.
  • The newly insured skew slightly younger, but not healthier. Young and healthy Americans are an important target in public outreach efforts for enrollment, because they essentially subsidize the cost of insurance for those who are older and less healthy. Frank Newport’s analysis of Gallup Daily tracking data shows that newly insured Americans are fairly evenly distributed across 18- to 64-year-olds, with a slight to moderate skew toward younger Americans aged 18 to 29 years. Using a measure of self-reported health status, Gallup found that the newly insured in 2014 mirror the health of the overall population, meaning they are neither sicker nor healthier. Not surprisingly, the newly insured also tend to have lower incomes and are more likely to be Democrats than the general U.S. adult population.
While there has been a significant drop in the uninsured rate that is attributable to the ACA, there are various factors that could affect whether this rate will decline, tick up, or level off in the future.

First, it is likely that at least some newly insured Americans will not pay their premiums and will rejoin the ranks of the uninsured. Second, as fines for not having insurance rise, it may push down the uninsured rate. A recent analysis on Gallup.com suggests that higher fines would encourage more uninsured Americans to get health coverage. Third, if more states choose to expand Medicaid, the overall uninsured rate likely would decline. Finally, if negative attitudes toward the ACA dissipate in the future and positive views replace them, it could translate into more Americans deciding to sign up rather than pay the fine. So far, however, Americans’ views of the ACA have not changed much after the April 1 deadline for the official enrollment period.

To follow Gallup’s ongoing coverage of the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the uninsured population, sign up for Gallup News alerts.

Watch the full event here:


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Eight Key Findings on Americans’ Experiences With the Healthcare Law

By Lindsey Sharpe

Despite Americans continuing to view the Affordable Care Act (ACA) more negatively than positively and a federal health exchange website rife with technological glitches, the U.S. uninsured rate has fallen in so far in 2014.

The majority of uninsured Americans reported in February that they do plan to get insurance, making it possible that the uninsured rate will continue to decline in the coming weeks and months. The deadline for obtaining health coverage is March 31, but the Obama administration this week announced an extension for Americans who have logged into the healthcare exchange website but have not purchased a health plan.

Gallup will continue to monitor Americans’ opinions of and experiences with the healthcare law as the March 31 deadline approaches and throughout the extension period. In the meantime, here are eight key findings about the healthcare situation in the U.S. as the deadline to get health coverage approaches:

1. Two-thirds of Americans report the healthcare system works for them. However, Americans with health insurance are more than twice as likely as those without health insurance to be satisfied with the healthcare system -- 72% vs. 33%, respectively. With the majority of uninsured Americans dissatisfied with the way the healthcare system is working for them, the ACA has the potential to improve the healthcare situation for this group. 

2. Americans’ attitudes toward the healthcare law continue to be more negative than positive, with 40% approving and 55% disapproving of the law in March. Additionally, by 40% to 21%, Americans say the law is more likely to make their families' healthcare situations worse rather than better. These evaluations are highly related to party identification, and thus may have more to do with Americans’ political leanings than a more objective assessment of the law and how it is actually working. 

3. Just under a quarter of Americans say the healthcare law has already hurt them or their families, while 10% say it has helped them so far. The majority of Americans (63%) feel the law has had no effect on them or their families. As more people sign up for insurance or get new plans to comply with the law, the percentage of Americans who say they have been unaffected will presumably go down. Party affiliation tends to color the responses, with Republicans being the most likely to report a negative impact from the law.

4. As states determine how to implement the Affordable Care Act, a pattern has emerged showing that states with the highest rates of uninsured residents are among the least likely to expand Medicaid and to establish state-based exchanges.

5. The percentage of uninsured Americans has drifted down in early 2014, from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 15.9% as of the end of February 2014. The uninsured rate has fallen within almost every major demographic group -- though most dramatically among lower-income and black Americans. Hispanics are still the most likely demographic to lack health insurance among key subgroups and have seen one of the smallest decreases in their percentage uninsured -- 0.8 percentage points. This suggests that, while the healthcare law is increasing access to insurance, some of the key target populations continue to opt out. 

6. More Americans (18.1%) now report that their primary health insurance coverage is through a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member compared with the end of 2013 (17.2%). This increase coincides with a fall of nearly two points in the percentage of Americans who get insurance through a current or former employer (43.4%). This increase may suggest that Americans are using the federal and state health exchanges to find competitively priced coverage, rather than depending on insurance plans issued through an employer. Alternatively, it could also be that employers are no longer offering coverage. 

7. More than half of those without insurance in the U.S., 55%, reported in February that they planned to buy insurance rather than pay a fine, which is down from 63% last fall. One reason for the decline may be that many of those who were uninsured last fall may have already signed up for insurance. More than half of the remaining uninsured who plan to obtain insurance say they plan to get it from an exchange. These findings are generally positive for supporters of the ACA, as the majority of uninsured Americans plan to get insurance, and many will use the federal and state exchanges. However, in many instances, a verbal intention to buy insurance may not be manifested in subsequent behavior. Additionally, a sizable portion of uninsured Americans plan to remain that way.

8. Uninsured Americans who have visited an exchange site remain about twice as likely to rate their experience negatively as positively. These negative experiences could be due to general dissatisfaction with plan offerings because of cost or a lack of coverage options. Alternatively, despite the Obama administration’s intensive efforts to fix problems plaguing the website, issues with the site may continue to discourage or prevent Americans from signing up for health plans. The Obama administration announced this week that Americans who report having technical difficulties with the exchanges are eligible for an extension to sign up for a health plan.

For those interested in a more in-depth review of the data, Gallup is pleased to invite you to An Inside Look at Gallup’s Healthcare and ACA Data, an event that will provide an unprecedented look into Americans' experiences with and perspectives on topics related to the Affordable Care Act and healthcare. Gallup experts will present data collected from 1,000 Americans per day -- from 2008 through the present -- via the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and Gallup Daily tracking surveys. The event will take place April 16, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Updates to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index in 2014

As of Jan. 1, 2014, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® transitioned to an updated version. The Well-Being Index now includes a new set of questions, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being 5™, which is based on extensive collaborative research by Gallup and Healthways. The updated Well-Being Index measures well-being with even more power and scope than previous well-being measurement tools, including the earlier version of the Well-Being Index.

The updated Well-Being Index now reflects the five essential elements of well-being:

  • Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life 
  • Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community  
  • Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
These elements replaced the six domains that were previously used (Life Evaluation, Work Environment, Emotional Health, Basic Access, Healthy Behaviors, and Physical Health). The updated tool continues to measure life evaluation (thriving/struggling/suffering) and daily emotions, in addition to the five elements, and all of these will be reported on Gallup.com.

The updated instrument is administered nationwide, with 500 surveys to U.S. households each evening, 350 days per year. During the transitional year of 2014, well-being scores can be computed via the updated instrument using a subset of original question items that are still administered in the updated survey. These scores are comparable to scores from the original Well-Being Index.

As in the past, well-being results reported in early 2014 for cities, states, and the U.S. will use the previous full year of data collected via the original Well-Being Index in 2013. In early 2015, Well-Being Index results for these populations will be available using data collected in 2014 with the updated instrument.

Reporting will continue to include the trending of specific metrics such as obesity status, disease burden, smoking habits, exercise, and eating habits.

To get these stories as soon as they publish, sign up for Gallup.com email alerts.

Learn more about how the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index works here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Filipinos’ Resilience Will Help Them Persevere After Typhoon

By Nicole Naurath, Regional Director for Asia

Typhoon Haiyan has left behind chaotic, tangled debris of what used to be vibrant towns and villages in the central Philippines. Images of the destruction are overwhelming to see; it’s difficult to fathom living through it. Yet, as I watched this tragedy unfold, I knew Filipinos’ resilience would prevail. 

The Filipinos I have met have been exceptionally kind, hard-working, and positive. While these are my personal observations, Gallup data support them. The Philippines ranked among the top 10 countries worldwide on Gallup’s Positive Emotions Index in 2012. It is the only Asian country in the top 10, while seven of the 10 are Latin American countries. 


Gallup measured positive emotions in 143 countries in 2012 by asking people whether they experienced enjoyment a lot, felt respected, felt well-rested, laughed and smiled a lot, and learned or did something interesting the previous day. Gallup compiled the "yes" results into a Positive Experience Index score for each country.

Many Filipinos were vulnerable before the storm even made landfall, and now millions in the central Philippines are faced with the difficult task of completely rebuilding their communities and their lives. But this is a nation of hardworking people. In the most recent Gallup survey of the Philippines, 92% of Filipinos said that people in their country can get ahead if they work hard, higher than the worldwide average of 79% in 2012. They have consistently felt that hard work pays off, with more than 75% saying so since Gallup began asking the question there in 2006. 


It is this Filipino combination of a belief in hard work and a positive attitude that will help them rebuild and overcome this tragedy. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Many Filipinos Vulnerable Before Typhoon

By Nicole Naurath, Regional Director for Asia

Many Filipinos were ill equipped to cope with the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan long before it made landfall. In June, majorities of Filipinos said they struggled to afford food (62%) and adequate housing (55%). Roughly half of the population has consistently reported problems affording food and shelter since Gallup started asking these questions in 2006.


As Typhoon Haiyan -- one of the strongest storms ever recorded -- threatened the central Philippines, I worried. I’ve visited the islands of Samar, Leyte, and Cebu to oversee interviews for the Gallup World Poll, and many homes were not sturdy enough to withstand the typhoon’s horror. They are simple, yet creative and functional dwellings, but are made of non-durable materials such as woven fronds and bamboo.


Furthermore, many in the Philippines already lived an emotionally trying existence before the typhoon hit. In 2012, Filipinos were among the most likely worldwide to report feeling a lot of stress (61%), trailing only the Greeks and Syrians. In addition to lacking food and shelter, these high levels of self-reported stress have also consistently been recorded since Gallup began tracking it in 2006, suggesting emotional and physical recovery will take time.


For more global data and insights, sign up for Gallup Analytics and Gallup News alerts.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Glimpse Into Americans’ Views on Diet and Nutrition

As the U.S. struggles with a rising obesity rate and its effect on national healthcare costs, Americans’ dietary and nutritional choices may be more important now than ever before. Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits survey provides insight into the decisions Americans make when they dine at restaurants and at home.

Here are five key highlights from the 2013 survey:

  1. Doctors encourage healthy diets: About two-thirds of Americans report that their doctors share the benefits of a healthy diet with them. 
  2. Most Americans eat fast food regularly: Eight in 10 Americans report eating at fast-food restaurants at least monthly, with almost half saying they eat fast food at least weekly. 
  3. Americans tend to ignore nutritional information while eating out: Less than half of Americans, 43%, say that they pay a "great deal" or a "fair amount" of attention to nutritional information on menus.  
  4. Americans are more likely to review nutritional information on food packages: A majority of Americans, 68%, say that they pay at least a fair amount of attention to nutritional labels on food packages.
  5. Young and nonwhite Americans most likely to drink regular soda: About half of young adults and nonwhite Americans drink regular soda. This compares with about one in three Americans overall who do so.
Explore more health and wellbeing insights on the Wellbeing homepage, including weekly, monthly, and quarterly data updates on Americans' life ratings, mood, health insurance status, and weight situation.

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