12.2% of Americans Have No Health Insurance, and the Numbers Are Increasing

Violet Powell
January 18, 2018

Throughout a year of Republican attacks on American health care, with more expected in 2018, it comes as no surprise that during Trump's first year in office, the number of uninsured Americans increased for the first time since the Affordable Care Act was enacted.

According to Gallup-Sharecare, this is the largest year-over-year increase in the uninsured rate since the survey began in 2008.

Every race group also seen a rise in the number of people without health insurance. It increased most among young adults, blacks, Hispanics and low-income Americans.

Gallup said media coverage of repeated attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, former President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, may have caused confusion among consumers. Non-Hispanic African Americans saw the largest increase of 2.3%, from 12.5% in Q4 2016 to 14.8% in Q4 2017.

Gallup said the factors linked to the uninsured increase include payers leaving the ACA exchanges and the subsequent rising costs of plans.

"Enough is enough. Congressional leaders and the Trump administration need to stop their legislative and administrative attacks on Americans' health coverage, and instead work to protect and improve the health and well-being of our nation's families". The third quarter uninsured rate was 12.3%.

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The percent of uninsured residents remained stuck at 12.2 in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to a Gallup-Sharecare survey published Tuesday, indicating a 1.3 percent increase in uninsured from 2016 to 2017. Congress effectively nullified the individual mandate by setting the penalty at $0 as part of the tax cut bill that passed last month. Those young, generally healthier consumers are sorely needed to balance out the risk pool in the individual market, as they offset the higher costs associated with their older, sicker counterparts.

According to the new Gallup-Sharecare data, the number of Americans who purchased their own health insurance coverage through the ACA's health-care exchanges also dropped by 1 percent to 20.3 percent. "Between then and 2016, the percentage of adults with coverage via self-paid plans has grown 3.7 points".

The losses follow years of historic insurance gains driven by the health care law's expansion of coverage, which started being fully implemented in 2014. Because of our employer-based health insurance system, insurance rates typically rise when more people have jobs.

Enrollment for coverage in 2018 has been roughly on pace with a year ago, despite the Trump administration's continued hostility to the law. With the repeal of the individual mandate and insurance premiums that are likely to continue rising, the uninsured rate will likely increase further in coming years, the pollster said.

The uninsured rate was at 10.9% in November 2016 when Donald Trump, who promised to repeal the ACA, was elected president.

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