People who have lost jobs due to COVID-19 and live in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing affordable health insurance coverage.
More than 70 percent of the 7.4 million workers with pre-pandemic employer-based insurance through industries now vulnerable to high rates of unemployment were found to be eligible for some assistance with health insurance (Medicaid or marketplace subsidies) if they lost their jobs. However, eligibility differs significantly between workers in states that have and have not expanded Medicaid.
Authors find that whether unemployment compensation is included in determining eligibility for Medicaid and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace subsidies affects workers living in states that expanded Medicaid differently than those living in states that do not.
If the additional federal unemployment compensation was not used to determine eligibility for health insurance assistance, 78 percent of expansion state workers in the most vulnerable industries would be eligible for assistance compared to 59 percent of their counterparts in the 15 nonexpansion states.
Under current law, more than 70 percent of expansion and nonexpansion state workers with pre-pandemic employer-based insurance through industries now vulnerable to high rates of unemployment would be eligible for some assistance with health insurance if they lost their jobs.
The current limits on marketplace subsidies mean that fewer workers are likely to be eligible for financial assistance in getting or maintaining health insurance coverage. At the same time, additional funds could help them meet other pressing needs. This research suggests that eligibility for financial assistance above 400 percent of the federal poverty level under current rules would address this problem.
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Unemployment, Health Insurance, and the COVID-19 Recession
The reduction in U.S. economic activity associated with public health efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus is likely to result in millions losing their jobs.