The number of Americans without health care insurance hit a four-year high in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a new poll released Wednesday by Gallup, as the Trump administration looks to weaken -- and repeal -- the Affordable Care Act, the keystone health care law of the Obama administration.
The U.S. adult uninsured rate climbed to 13.7 percent this past quarter -- the highest level since the first quarter of 2014, before people were required to buy health insurance as a result of ObamaCare, when the rate skyrocketed to 18 percent. That’s a 2.8 percentage point increase from the low point in 2016 of 10.9 percent and represents roughly 7 million additional people lacking health insurance.
There’s several reasons for the increase in the uninsured, according to analysis provided by Gallup, including an increase in the rates of insurance premiums in many states. For enrollees with incomes who don’t qualify for government subsidies, the resulting hike in rates could ultimately drive them out of the marketplace, Gallup noted.
It may also be a result of policy decisions; there’s significantly less public marketing -- and less time -- for open enrollment periods for ObamaCare. Funding for people who assist those choosing a health care plan under the ACA has declined to $10 million in 2018, compared to $63 million in 2016.
That’s not to mention the efforts underway on Capitol Hill to rollback ObamaCare in its entirety. When Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, they also managed to repeal the individual mandate in the health care legislation, no longer requiring people to buy health care or face a fine.
Finally, one reason fewer Americans have health care insurance is that an increasing number of them have -- legally -- opted for health care sharing ministries.
“Congressional Republicans made numerous high-profile attempts in 2017 to repeal and replace the plan,” Gallup said.
“Although none fully succeeded legislatively, the elimination of the ACA's individual mandate penalty as part of the December 2017 Republican tax reform law may have reduced participation in the insurance marketplace in the most recent open enrollment period.”