Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data provides glimpse of those losing health coverage amid the pandemic-related recession.
Because most adults in America under age 65 get health insurance coverage through their or a family member’s employer, many people in families losing jobs are also at risk of losing coverage.
3.3 million non-elderly adults in America lost employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) over the summer of 2020 during the COVID-19 recession. Researchers estimate 1.9 million adults became newly uninsured from late April through mid-July.
Nearly half of those who lost ESI (1.6 million) were Hispanic adults, adding to earlier evidence that suggests Hispanic adults are disproportionately feeling the impact of the pandemic-related recession more than other racial and ethnic groups. Younger adults (2.2 million), men (3.0 million) and adults who did not attend college (2.1 million) made up the majority of ESI losses.
An estimated 1.8 million non-elderly adults lost ESI in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility requirements under the Affordable Care Act, whereas 1.5 million adults lost ESI in states that have not expanded.
Between late-April and mid-July, an estimated 2.2 million adults gained public coverage. There was no significant change in private nongroup coverage during this period.
The Household Pulse Survey offers a snapshot of how health insurance coverage changed between April 23–May 12 and July 9–21, 2020, as the COVID-19 recession extended into the summer and millions of adults remained unemployed.
With continued weakness in the labor market, researchers conclude federal and state policymakers will need to act to prevent job losses from leading to further increases in uninsurance. At the federal level, expanded subsidies for marketplace coverage and restoration of funding for outreach and enrollment assistance can help more unemployed adults afford premiums and navigate their coverage options. At the state level, additional Medicaid expansions can prevent adults from falling into an assistance gap, where they are ineligible for both Medicaid and marketplace subsidies.
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