New poll shows uninsured rate went up in 2017 January 22, 2018
Rising costs and confusion stemming from healthcare policy debates were probably contributing factors to a decrease in the number of Americans covered by health insurance in 2017. A recent Gallup-Share Well-Being Index poll found that the uninsured rate went up in 2017, with the “largest single-year increase Gallup and Sharecare have measured since beginning to track the rate in 2008, including the period before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect.”
The 2017 number of uninsured Americans was at 12.2% at the end of the fourth quarter, an increase in of 1.3%, or an estimated 3.2 million people. Many factors probably contributed to this number, including an increase in rates and the numerous attempts to repeal and replace the ACA throughout the year.
Gallup News cites the fact that “Some insurance companies stopped offering insurance through the exchanges, and the resulting lack of competition drove up the cost of plans for consumers. This may have caused some Americans, especially those who failed to qualify for federal subsidies, to forgo insurance.”
The many attempts to replace and repeal ACA and to introduce new healthcare policies also contributed to the higher rate of uninsured Americans, as these debates “may have caused some consumers to question whether the government would enforce the penalty for not having insurance.”
The uninsured rate rose most among young adults, those aged 18-15, blacks, Hispanics, and low-income Americans. The loss of healthy young adults in the insured pool may ultimately cause additional rate hikes.
In addition, when Congressional Republicans succeeded in passing a law in December 2017 that repealed the individual mandate portion of the ACA, many insured may have been confused as to when that repeal actually took effect.
Gallup reports, however, that the uninsured rate is still far below that of the 18% peak in the third quarter of 2013, prior to the implementation of the ACA’s requirements for adults to have health insurance.