Uninsured rate ticks up as nearly 2M drop insurance coverage in 2017: Gallup poll

Health insurance, pen and stethoscope
The uninsured rate has taken a slight climb for the second straight quarter. (Getty/Minerva Studio)

The uninsured rate ticked up for the second straight quarter, according to a new poll, indicating that nearly 2 million people have become uninsured since the end of 2016.

The uninsured rate increased from 11.3% to 11.7% in the second quarter of 2017, according to a poll from Gallup and Sharecare. This is an increase of less than a percent since the record low of 10.9% in the third and fourth quarters of 2016, but it’s statistically significant based on the volumes of people involved.


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However, despite the increase, the rate remains significantly lower than the peak rate in October 2013 (18%), which was recorded shortly before the Affordable Care Act went into full effect.

The poll results are based on more than 45,000 interviews with U.S. adults.

RELATED: Medicaid expansion slashed uninsured rates for poor, childless adults

Gallup and Sharecare estimated that several market factors contributed to the increase. Individual marketplace premiums are increasing in a number of regions, and the increasing number of insurers leaving the markets could also drive up costs. Plus, uncertainty about the future of the ACA’s marketplaces and its individual mandate could leave consumers questioning whether they’ll be punished for being uninsured.

The largest increase in people without insurance was among young people, according to the poll. The rate rose 1.9 points among people aged 18 to 24 and by 1.5 points for those aged 25 to 34 since the end of last year. Courting young adults into the markets is key, as their premiums can help offset the cost of older adults who typically use more healthcare.

RELATED: Lack of info the reason many millennials forgo health insurance

Significant insurance gains have been made among Black, Hispanic and low-income Americans, three of the most vulnerable populations, since the ACA took effect, according to the poll. The uninsured rate remains the highest among Hispanics, but has dropped by more than 10 percentage points since 2013; decreasing from 38.7% to 28.4%.

The most gains were made in the individual markets and in Medicaid. Sharp cuts to Medicaid are included in both GOP healthcare bills, which could significantly impact the uninsured rate; the Congressional Budget office projected that the Senate’s bill would cause 22 million fewer people to have insurance by 2026.

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