Poll finds 4M lost health insurance in last two years
About 4 million Americans lost health insurance in the last two years, according to a new survey from the Commonwealth Fund, which attributed the decline to actions taken by the Trump administration.
The uninsured rate was up significantly compared with 2016 among adults with an individual income of about $30,000 and a family income of about $61,000.
Additionally, people who identified as Republican also had significantly higher uninsured rates.
The uninsured rate among Republicans rose from 7.9 percent in 2016 to 13.9 percent in the current survey period, which was conducted between February and March of 2018. The uninsured rate among those who identify as Democrats stood at 9.1 percent, statistically unchanged from 2016.
The survey was conducted among 2,403 adults, ages 19 to 64.
The results indicate that the coverage losses are likely to continue.
About 60 percent of all adults surveyed said they were aware that the GOP tax bill included a repeal of the individual mandate penalty, and 9 percent of people who get their insurance through the individual market said they were planning to drop coverage as a result.
The Commonwealth Fund said the findings are likely the result of a lack of federal legislative actions to improve specific weaknesses in ObamaCare, as well as specific actions taken by the Trump administration, from repealing the individual mandate to allowing insurance companies to offer short-term health plans that don’t have to cover pre-existing conditions.
The administration also slashed the advertising budget for enrolling people under ObamaCare by 90 percent, in addition to cutting funds for local groups that help people sign up for coverage.
Despite those cuts, the number of people selecting ObamaCare plans at the end of this year’s open enrollment, 11.8 million, was not that much different from last year’s 12.2 million.
Democrats and activist groups seized on the results, as well as comments made by former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Price on Tuesday said the repeal of the individual mandate will drive up costs and result in people losing coverage, an argument the insurance industry has been making for months.
“Former Secretary Price’s comments and the new Commonwealth Fund study continue to remove any doubt that Republicans and the Trump administration own any and all increases in health care premiums for American consumers,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also took aim at congressional Republicans
“Americans have had enough of Republicans making their health care more expensive. The GOP’s sabotage of the health insurance system is having real, adverse impacts on middle class Americans — voters know who is to blame and they’ll hold every Republican Senate candidate accountable for making their care less accessible and more expensive,” DSCC spokesman David Bergstein said.
The survey had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, and the Commonwealth Fund noted that results from large federal surveys like the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) will shed more light on the insurance trends. Early results from the NHIS showed the uninsured rate among the non-elderly basically unchanged in 2017 compared to 2016.
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