Health Reform WK-EDGE Uninsured rates rise for first time since ACA implementation
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Monday, December 17, 2018

Uninsured rates rise for first time since ACA implementation

By Bryant Storm, J.D.

In 2017, the number of uninsured individuals grew by 700,000 people. The increase marks the first time the number of uninsured has risen since the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148). According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) fact sheet, the decrease in the percentage of people with health insurance has been caused by ongoing efforts to alter the ACA and changes to Medicaid like the establishment of work requirements.

Uninsured. In the absence of Medicaid eligibility or other financial assistance, insurance remains out of reach for many individuals, especially in states that have not expanded Medicaid. According to KFF, high costs are the reason that 45 percent of uninsured individuals give for not having coverage. Eleven percent of uninsured individuals say the loss of Medicaid is the reason they are uninsured. Another 22 percent of individuals attribute a lack of coverage to employment circumstances—a lost job or a change of employers. Additionally, many individuals who are eligible for assistance under the ACA are unaware of their eligibility. The uninsured rate is also exacerbated by the fact that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medicaid or marketplace coverage.

Access to care. Uninsured individuals experience barriers to care. Specifically, one in five uninsured adults went without care they needed in 2017 due to the cost of that care. For the same reasons, uninsured individuals are less likely that the insured to seek preventive care for chronic and major health conditions. In the event that uninsured individuals do seek care, they are more than twice as likely as their insured counterparts to have difficulty paying medical bills.

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