Health Reform and Changes in Health Insurance Coverage in 2017

A health worker helps a member of the public complete forms at a polling station which offers flu shots.

Analysis of uninsured rates shows an increase in the number of uninsured non-elderly adults in 2017 after the full implementation of the ACA.

 

The issue

More than 20 percent of the gains in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) disappeared by the end of 2017. The uninsured rate for nonelderly adults increased by 1.3 percentage points in 2017, after decreasing by 6.3 percentage points between 2013-2016, after the full implementation of the ACA. 

Key Findings

Researchers pointed to factors that could be contributing to fewer people with insurance:

  • Fewer federal resources devoted to raising awareness of coverage options and signing-up individuals;

  • Increasing premiums in the individual marketplace;

  • Recent regulatory changes.

Conclusion

The ACA is associated with large gains in coverage and access to care. As the partial loss of these gains over 2017 shows, this increased coverage isn’t necessarily permanent, and ongoing policy debates will have an impact on health insurance coverage. Continued monitoring of changes in coverage levels, utilization of health care services, and population health are needed to fully understand the effects of policy changes on the ACA’s impact.

About the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.