- The uninsured rate in the U.S. is at a four-year high, having reached 13.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a new Gallup poll. That rate is the highest since the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was implemented in 2014.
- Despite the rise in the uninsured rate, it’s still below the peak of 18%, recorded in the third quarter of 2013. That figure then dropped to an all-time low of 10.9% in 2016. The elimination of the individual mandate penalty, cost-sharing reductions and other policy decisions made under the Trump administration have helped boost the rate back up.
- According to Gallup, the uninsured rate has increased most among women, young adults and low-income Americans. Separate research has shown the number of uninsured children in the U.S. has also increased for the first time in over a decade.
The Affordable Care Act helped the U.S. reach historical lows for the rate of uninsured adults, but that figure has continued to tick back up as the Trump administration has undermined the law.
In all, the 2.8 percentage point increase since 2016’s low point represents about 7 million more uninsured Americans. Most of those 7 million became uninsured in 2017, which experienced the largest single-year increase (1.3 percentage points) since Gallup began polling Americans on the question in 2008.
The continued rise in the uninsured rate is reversing the gains made under the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA ushered in a time when people could buy insurance not tied to a job — without having to worry about being denied for having a pre-existing condition such as diabetes or cancer. Plus, it allowed states to expand Medicaid to low-income residents who otherwise could not afford to purchase private coverage on their own.
During that time of record-low uninsured rates, many Americans were required to have health insurance or risked incurring a financial penalty.
But once President Donald Trump was elected he began working to overturn the law. In December 2017, the GOP’s tax bill eliminated the financial penalty for not having insurance.
A separate Commonwealth Fund report found that the uninsured rate was up significantly among working adults in states that did not expand Medicaid.