WASHINGTON — The number of people in the U.S. without health insurance jumped by 1 million between 2017 and 2018, according to new survey data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Insurance is an important part of our nation’s well-being,” said Laryssa Mykyta, chief of the Health and Disability Statistics, Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division at the Census Bureau. “The increase in the uninsured rate from 7.9% to 8.5% was definitely the most significant finding in that section.”

The Trump administration has maintained that the Affordable Care Act is to blame for keeping individuals and families from buying health insurance. 

“Obamacare has priced millions of Americans out of coverage,” an official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement. “Obamacare attempted to insure every American, and even tax those who refused to pay for it, but because nothing was done to control costs, the insurance problem has not been solved and for many Americans, it has been made worse.”

Some experts cite the efforts of the Trump administration to dismantle the Affordable Care Act as the reason for the reduction in those covered.

“The reduction is, at least, partially due to Trump administration efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act,” said Mollye Demosthenidy, a health policy associate professor at Tulane University. “The open enrollment period was shortened, and the administration cut advertising and navigator programs designed to educate the public. And it’s likely those actions affected enrollment.” 

The annual survey, which examines demographics, income levels, housing status and other social and economic factors of people living in the U.S., found that the number of Medicaid recipients decreased 0.7% in 2018.

Last year, the Trump administration imposed requirements that Medicaid recipients must submit proof of having spent time on community engagement, which includes job training, trying to find work and jobs.  Last year, 4,000 people in Arkansas alone lost Medicaid coverage after failing to report their hours.

“Community engagement requirements are not some subversive attempt to just kick people off of Medicaid,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Director Seema Verma said in a statement last year in response to the Arkansas situation.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average cost of employer-sponsored family coverage was over $20,000 in 2019, a 5% increase from the previous year. The foundation also found that deductibles had grown nearly 162% since 2009.