A new study by Thomas Buchmueller and Christopher Carpenter in the March issue of AJPH finds that same-sex couples are more likely than hetero-couples to be uninsured. However, that effect has more to do with marriage than anything else. The authors found that when they broke the hetero-couples into two groups (married and cohabiting) the same-sex couples actually fell in the middle.
In short, young, straight people who are “shacking up” are the least likely to be insured. Same-sex couples tend to be a bit older and a bit more likely to have insurance. Married couples, however, are the most likely to be insured. This begs the questions: Might legalizing gay marriage (or permitting civil unions) actually decrease the number of uninsured? How significant would this change be? Would it be more meaningful in certain areas (e.g., Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco) and less meaningful in others (e.g., Boise, Detroit, Memphis)?