The number of Americans without health insurance jumped by 3.2 million in 2017 -- and Congress could be to blame

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  • The percentage of Americans without health insurance increased to 12.2% in 2017, a 1.3 percentage point increase from the year before, according to a survey by Gallup-Sharecare.
  • This is the largest one-year increase since the start of the survey in 2008.
  • Gallup-Sharecare said that individual market instability and uncertainty around healthcare policy from Washington DC contributed to the increase.

The number of Americans without health insurance rose at the highest rate in years during 2017 according to a new Gallup-Sharecare survey.

According to the survey released Monday, 12.2% of Americans were without health coverage in the fourth quarter and the uninsured rate jumped 1.3 percentage points from the same quarter the year before – which translates to 3.2 million more uninsured Americans.

According to Gallup-Sharecare, this is the largest year-over-year increase in the uninsured rate since the survey began in 2008.

“The 1.3-point increase in the uninsured rate during 2017 is the largest single-year increase Gallup and Sharecare have measured since beginning to track the rate in 2008, including the period before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect,” Gallup-Sharecare said in a release.

Gallup-Sharecare cited a number of reasons for the increases uninsured rate, including the number of insurers pulling out of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance marketplaces. According to the pollsters, the increase during 2017 also falls partly on uncertainty from Washington DC.

“Further, media coverage of the policies to repeal and replace the healthcare law may have caused some consumers to question whether the government would enforce the penalty for not having insurance” Gallup-Sharecare said. “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several attempts to repeal or replace the healthcare law during 2017, ultimately passing a tax bill in December that repealed the individual mandate.”

While the 12.2% uninsured rate is still much lower than the pre-ACA rate of 18%, Gallup-Sharecare said that the policies from President Donald Trump could cause the number of people without coverage to continue to increase.

“It seems likely that the uninsured rate will rise further in the years ahead. President Donald Trump signed a tax bill into law in December that included a repeal of the individual mandate,” Gallup-Sharecare wrote. “Without this requirement to have health insurance, it is likely that some Americans will drop their coverage. Rising insurance premiums, which are expected to continue to increase, could also result in some Americans forgoing health coverage.”

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