3.2 million more Americans were uninsured in 2017

Ruben Ruiz
January 17, 2018

The percentage of adults without health insurance ticked up marginally in 2017, growing 1.3 percent, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday morning.

The last quarter of 2017 saw no significant change in the uninsured rate, according to the survey. This isn't too surprising because people of color saw greater gains in coverage than white residents under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - although they're still more likely to be uninsured. Obamacare's exchanges opened in 2014, the same year Medicaid expansion began and the individual mandate - which required almost all Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty - took effect.

The uninsured rate began plummeting thereafter, falling to 13.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, and to 10.9 percent by the last quarter of 2016.

According to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-being Index, fewer Americans bought their own plans - 20.3 percent in the last quarter of 2017 compared to 21.3 percent at the end of the year prior.

For supporters of the ACA, the blame for more people opting not to be insured falls on President Donald Trump.

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The annual increase is the largest single-year jump since Gallup and Sharecare began tracking the uninsured rate in 2008. He also cut back significantly on the advertising to encourage sign-ups in health plans during the recently completed enrollment period.

Several factors may have led to more people going uninsured, Gallup said, including insurance companies leaving the ACA exchanges and the resulting lack of competition driving up premiums.

"This may have caused some Americans, especially those who failed to qualify for federal subsidies, to forgo insurance".

"Having passed their tax bill, congressional Republicans' 2018 legislative goals include reforming funding mechanisms for Medicaid and Medicare - programs that subsidize health care coverage for low-income, disabled and elderly Americans", Gallup says.

"It seems likely that the uninsured rate will rise further in the years ahead", Gallup/Sharecare writes in its analysis, citing the repeal of the individual mandate.

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