July 10 (UPI) — The percentage of U.S. adults who don’t have healthcare insurance rose to 11.7 percent in the second quarter of 2017 — a 0.4 percentage increase from the end of 2016, according to a survey by Gallup and Sharecare.
The second-quarter results are based on 45,087 interviews with U.S. adults 18 and older from April 1 to June 30. Gallup and Sharecare have asked at least 500 U.S. adults each day since January 2008 whether they have health insurance.
“Although the increase in the uninsured rate from the end of 2016 to Gallup’s most recent update is small on a percentage basis, it is statistically significant given the very large sample sizes involved, and translates into nearly 2 million Americans who, apparently, have already dropped out of the insured ranks,” Gallup’s Zac Auter said.
In another study, also released Monday, Kaiser Family Foundation concluded the Affordable Care Act exchange markets are “stabilizing” and it’s becoming profitable for insurers.
In the Gallup study, the uninsured rate reached a record low of 10.9 percent in the last two quarters of 2016. It reached a peak of 18.8 percent in the third quarter of 2013, which is right before the healthcare exchanges opened in October. In 2014, the ACA’s individual mandate required Americans to obtain coverage or pay a tax penalty.
The increase from last year is attributed to several factors: insurance premiums are rising, some providers are leaving the ACA marketplace causing a lack of competition and the uncertainty of the healthcare law, known as Obamacare.
The highest uninsured rate remains the age class of 26-34 at 20.4 percent — up from 18.9 percent in the last quarter but down from 28.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.
In the 18-25 group, it is at 20.4 percent, up from 18.9 percent in the last quarter and down from 28.2 percent in 2013. The big drop from four years ago is attributed to an ACA provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
The uninsured rate among Hispanics still is the highest of any major racial or ethnic group (28.4 percent). But it has fallen 10.3 points since the last quarter of 2013. Among backs, 13.3 percent report being uninsured, down 7.6 points from the last quarter of 2013.
Since the individual mandate took effect, more insured Americans are obtaining coverage by fully paying for their own plans. That group has grown from 17.6 percent four years ago to 20.6 percent now.
In the study from Kaiser Family Foundation, it found “insurer financial results show no sign of a market collapse,” study authors Cynthia Cox and Larry Levitt wrote.
In the study, insurers paid out 75 percent of their premiums in claims. In the first quarter of 2015, the figure was 88 percent of premiums were paid out for claims. In addition, average claims also grew slowly in the first part of this year.
“It does not appear that the enrollees today are noticeably sicker” than they were last year, the Kaiser report finds.
This contrasts with Republican arguments that Obamacare markets are in a “death spiral” and “collapsing.”
The report noted that a few areas of the country could have no insurers offering exchange coverage next year.
On average, premiums per enrollee grew 20 percent from first quarter 2016 to first quarter 2017, while per-person claims grew 5 percent.
“These data on claims and utilization suggest that the individual market risk pool is relatively stable, though sicker on average than the pre-ACA market, which is to be expected since people with pre-existing conditions have guaranteed access to coverage under the ACA,” the report said.