A new analysis from Families USA has found that 5.5 million people in the U.S. have lost their health insurance because of the coronavirus outbreak and job losses between February and May.
About half of the people who lost their health insurance live in just five states: California, Texas, Florida, New York and North Carolina.
Currently, about half the people working full time in the U.S. get health care from their employers. Still, if you include family members in the insurance loss numbers, there could be as many as 27 million people in the U.S. newly without health insurance.
Many of those currently not working are eligible to join Medicaid as an alternative to their previous insurance. There is also a law requiring employers to allow employees to continue their current coverage for 18 months after leaving a job for any reason, but that option requires the worker to pay the full cost of the plan without any subsidies they may have been getting.
Those who have lost their insurance can also purchase it from the Obamacare exchanges during a special enrollment period, but for those without jobs, it is unlikely that they could afford to do so.
As far as treatment for the coronavirus, the federal government is currently reimbursing hospitals for testing and treatment costs of COVID-19, but not everyone newly without insurance knows this.
Some experts worry that people will be afraid to go to the hospital for treatment of any disease when they don’t have insurance.
This could be a big problem for people who get COVID-19 and could even impact testing numbers.
According to Families USA, people without insurance have been less likely to get prompt diagnosis and treatment for conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Lack of Medicaid extensions may leave some with few options
Some states had decided not to extend Meidcaid, and may have a higher rate of non-insurance than those with Medicaid extensions, The Hill reported.
As people go back to work, it is unclear whether their health insurance will resume immediately, or whether they need to wait 30 to 90 days like most people do when starting a new job.
I’m sure Democrats think it’s the government’s job to provide health coverage to these laid-off workers, but I’d rather see it resolved in a way that doesn’t make people dependent on the government coverage.