Published: Wed, January 17, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Millions more Americans were uninsured in 2017

Millions more Americans were uninsured in 2017

By the end of 2017, the rate had risen to 12.2 percent, an increase of 3.2 million people.

Trump administration decisions to slash the Obamacare advertising budget by 90 per cent and cut the sign-up period in half also likely played a role in the rise of uninsured Americans, Gallup said.

The increases reverse a consistent series of drops in the uninsured rate since the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known, began taking full effect in January 2014.

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Bigger increases in uninsured rates were seen among low-income groups (up 2 percentage points) and among black (up 2.3 points) and Hispanic adults (up 2.2 points).

However, the 12.2% of people who don't have insurance remains lower than the rate's peak of 18%, which was reached in 2013, just prior to the expansion of the Affordable Care Act that allowed greater access to Medicaid while requiring people to purchase insurance or face a penalty. The biggest jump was seen among adults aged 18 to 25, where the uninsured rate increased by 2 percentage points to 16.7 percent.

But that downward trend in the uninsured rate reversed as Trump took office in January 2017.

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Data released Tuesday by the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index shows this to be the largest increase in the number of uninsured Americans in a single year since they began tracking the rate in 2008.

Gallup identified some possible causes.

The new Trump administration promptly pulled back on enrollment promotion efforts in the last days of the Obamacare open-enrollment season last January.

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Gallup cited various likely factors for the 1.3-point increase in 2017, such as increased plan costs for consumers due to some insurers leaving the ACA exchanges, as well as uncertainty past year surrounding legislative efforts to dismantle the ACA. Premiums on the ACA's insurance exchanges spiked in many places in 2017, making insurance harder to afford for people who make too much money to qualify for federal subsidies. "Congressional Republicans made several attempts to repeal or replace the healthcare law during 2017, ultimately passing a tax bill in December that repealed the individual mandate".

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