News: US Uninsured Rate Climbs Above 12%

New Gallup and Sharecare research finds more and more people do not have health insurance.

News: US Uninsured Rate Climbs Above 12%

According to recent research by Gallup and Sharecare, the percentage of US adults without health insurance increased to 12.3 percent during the third quarter of 2017. This latest statistic is slightly higher than the previous quarter (11.7 percent), and a full 1.4 percentage points higher than the end of 2016, when the uninsured rate dropped to a nine-year low of 10.9 percent. That 1.4-point spike represents about 3.5 million more people now without health insurance. In fact, the current rate of uninsured Americans is the highest it’s been since the fourth quarter of 2014 (12.9 percent).

The research was gathered by Gallup via a telephone survey conducted between July 1 and September 30 as part of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index™. It was comprised of 45,743 U.S. adults aged 18 and older.

Adults who are uninsured
Aside from adults aged 65 and older—since the majority of senior citizens receive health coverage through Medicare—the rate of uninsured Americans has risen at least one point among several different groups within the population since late 2016. The largest groups of adults forgoing health insurance include those who are middle-aged, lower-income and racial minorities.

Also, the percentage of people who purchase their own health insurance plans (as opposed to those who receive health insurance from an employer, a union, the military, Medicare or Medicaid) has dropped 1.3 points since the end of 2016—from 21.3 percent to 20 percent. Before then, the rate of adults with self-paid plans had increased by 3.7 points between quarter three of 2013 and the end of 2016. It had been the fastest-growing kind of coverage since the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate went into effect in 2013.

Reasons for being uninsured
A few marketplace factors could be to blame for the declining rates. Since some insurance companies are no longer offering coverage through the exchanges, the lack of competition might be responsible for increasing the cost of consumer plans. Due to the higher monthly premiums, more adults—most likely those who do not qualify for federal subsidies—may be opting not to purchase health insurance.

Another component could be instability related to the possibility that current healthcare laws will be repealed and replaced.

Looking ahead
The number of Americans without health insurance will likely keep increasing unless the government attempts to stabilize the insurance markets. President Trump stated in an October 2017 press conference that it won’t be until the beginning or middle of next year that healthcare legislation is back on the agenda.

In the meantime, for those interested in applying for coverage with the Health Insurance Marketplace—also referred to as the Health Insurance Exchange—the open enrollment period for 2018 begins on November 1. 

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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