The percentage of Americans that did not have health insurance increased during the first quarter of 2017, according to data from Gallup-Health Ways.
The Well-Being Index found that the percentage of uninsured Americans ticked up to 11.3% in the quarter, an uptick from 10.9% at the end of 2016, which was a record low for the history of the index.
According to Gallup and Health Ways, the recent fight over the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, may have been a contributing factor for the increase, as the future of healthcare became murkier.
“The slight rise in the number of uninsured Americans in the first quarter of 2017 could, in part, be attributable to the uncertainty surrounding the long-term future of the Affordable Care Act,” the release said. “As such, it will be important to monitor the uninsured trends in the coming months as these events unfold. If coverage options and premiums do change, members of Congress from both parties may show a renewed urgency to address the healthcare issue.”
While the increase in the uninsured rate was just the third increase since the start of Obamacare’s individual insurance exchanges launched in 2013, the overall rate is still well below its level when Obamacare was instituted.
“Despite an uptick in the uninsured rate in the first quarter of 2017, the number of U.S. adults without health insurance is still 6.7 percentage points lower than it was at its peak in the third quarter of 2013,” Gallup-Health Ways. “The uninsured rate reached 18.0% that quarter, just before the health insurance exchanges opened in October 2013.”
The survey found that the largest declines since the end of 2013 have come for Americans aged 26 to 34 (a 9.8-percentage point decline), Hispanics (a 10.1-point decline), and households making less than $US36,000 annually (a 8.6-point decline).
The Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the American Health Care Act, was estimated to decrease the number of Americans with insurance by 24 million over 10 years compared to the current baseline under the ACA, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Insurers have also begun to exit some Obamacare exchanges preemptively, as the future of the exchanges remains in limbo.