There was an uptick in the number of Americans who lack health insurance. Over the course of 2017 the uninsured rate increased about 10% to a total of 12.2%, which equates to about 3.2 million more Americans losing their health insurance over 2017 per the Gallup as well as National Health Interview Survey. While the number of uninsured is still much lower than it was before the Affordable Care Act was put into place, the trend is still going in the wrong direction.
If you are in that 12.2% bucket, and you get sick, it can be disastrous. Not having health insurance, then getting ill or needing surgery, can cause extreme financial hardship. Not only may there be loss of income from your job, but the resulting medical bills can be disastrous. It can cost hundreds of dollars just to visit the doctor one time, and thousands of dollars for staying one night in the hospital. Very few Americans can afford those expenses.
Reasons for increase in uninsured rate
The exact reason why someone either decided to cancel their health insurance policy, or maybe not sign up for one, will vary. Gallup identified several reasons. Some of them include the following.
One is the cost of an insurance policy. If someone does not get it from their employer, and they need to buy it themselves, the monthly premiums can be exorbitant. It may cost hundreds or even a thousand dollars + per month for a policy. That is a lot of money! And if someone does not get a government subsidy in 2017, as maybe their income is above that threshold, then the problem is even worse.
Another reason may be that Americans are deciding that even if they can afford a policy, why are they paying for it? As an example of this, the Gallup study says that the largest increase in the uninsured is for individuals age 18 to 25. So that is the age in which someone may think they are “indestructible” and that they will never get sick. Or if they do, it will be some minor issue. So that age group has decided to not get a health insurance policy for 2017 and join the ranks of the uninsured.
A third reason may be that Americans are waiting for alternatives. Maybe they are waiting on Republicans to implement more short term, catastrophic policies that will be cheaper as they do not require services they will never use.
The bottom line is that each and every person has their own reason. But whatever the reason, there was a definite jump of about 10% in the number of uninsured households.
What to do if you are part of the 12.2% of uninsured?
What are your options if you lack health insurance? The answer really depends on your income and/or age. If you are qualified for Medicaid or Medicare, then enroll! Some other options may be the following.
- Look into what your state may offer when it comes to medical care for the uninsured. Each local government may offer their own options for the uninsured, ranging from CHIP to charitable services and more.
- If your need is just for prescription drugs, then some pharmaceutical companies may offer assistance. Find prescription drug assistance programs.
- There are also some alternatives to having health insurance, and we list them on the website.
But your options will be limited. It is risky to go without health insurance, but at the same time it is expensive to have it. If you are uninsured, or thinking of it, always consider the risks if you were to get sick. Also, be sure to explore all options and consider implications, and each person needs to make their own decision.