U.S. Uninsured Rates Expected to Continue to Rise

The number of uninsured people living in the U.S. has risen to almost 3.5 million, owing to the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a survey conducted by the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.

For the survey, researchers asked a random sample of 500 people per day whether they have health insurance. In the third quarter of 2017 (July 1 to September 30), the rate of people who reported they were uninsured rose to 12.3 percent – up 1.4 percentage points since the end of 2016.

The researchers also found that more people purchased their own plans or enrolled in Medicaid in the past four years: Since 2013, the proportion of self-purchasers grew from 17.6 percent to 20.6 percent, and the percentage of Medicaid-based plans rose more than two points, to 9.2 percent.

According to the analysis, factors such as rising insurance premiums and the departure of companies from the marketplace could cause continued increases in uninsured rates, particularly for young adults.

The rates of uninsured rose most markedly in the young-adult demographic (+1.9% for people ages 18-25 years and +1.5% for people ages 26-34 years), which could affect insurance costs for older adults. “Young adults represent a critical demographic in a robust health-care market, since their premiums help offset the higher costs of older Americans who typically use more medical services,” the authors warned.

President Trump recently stopped the federal cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers that subsidized the costs of low-income insurance plans required under the ACA, which may reduce the number of options available to people on the ACA marketplace. The open enrollment period begins on November 1.

Source: AP News, October 20, 2017; Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, July 10, 2017.