12.2% of Americans Have No Health Insurance, and the Numbers Are Increasing

Health insurance
iStock.com/Minerva Studio

According to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Bring Index, the fourth quarter of 2017 saw 12.2% of U.S. adults living without health insurance. This is compared to 12.3% in the previous quarter in 2017. It is also an increase of 1.3%, or 3.2 million Americans, from 10.9% in the same quarter the year prior 2016–a record low for the index–making it the largest increase since the number of uninsured Americans began being measured.

The results of the fourth quarter figures of 2017 involved interviewing more than 25,000 U.S. adults from October 1 to December 31.

A Breakdown of Uninsured Americans

The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Bring Index took its data from the study of 25,000 U.S. adults between October 1 to December 31. It found that all subgroups, which included race, income level, and age, except for one saw an increase in the number of uninsured individuals compared to the same period in 2016.

That one exception is Americans over the age of 65, as they qualify for Medicare. Instead, the number of uninsured in this group decreased 0.2%, from 2.3% to 2.1%.


The largest jump was two percent for Americans between ages 18 and 25. This now brings the total Americans in that age range living without health insurance to 16.7%. The second-largest increase was in those ages 35 to 64, rising 1.8% from 11% to 12.8%.

The annual income level was broken down into three sections: less than $36,000, between $36,000 to $90,000, and over $90,000. All three saw an increase in individuals without insurance. The largest change occurred in the lowest income level, in which the number of uninsured increased two percent between 2016 and 2017, from 20.8% to 22.8%.

Every race group also seen a rise in the number of people without health insurance. Non-Hispanic African Americans saw the largest increase of 2.3%, from 12.5% in Q4 2016 to 14.8% in Q4 2017. The lowest increase was non-Hispanic whites, which went from 6.9% in Q4 2016 to 6.6% in Q4 2017 for an increase of 0.7%.

The Future

The rate of uninsured has actually been falling consistently since 2014–until last year, that is, when the trend reversed. And it looks like the declines will be continuing into 2018, and potentially beyond. That’s because in December, President Donald Trump signed a tax bill into law that makes health insurance no longer a requirement. And with premiums on the rise–another trend that looks to continue–many Americans are expected to take advantage of no longer being required to pay them. The most likely to do so are young adults, who traditionally offset the costs older individuals with a greater need for healthcare services; as a result, insurance premiums will rise even higher.



U.S. Uninsured Rate Steady at 12.2% in Fourth Quarter of 2017,” Gallup, January 16, 2018.

Uninsured rise by 3.2M in 2017, rate reaches 12.2%,” Becker’s Hospital Review, January 16, 2018.


Categories: News