May 13, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus likely forced 27 million off their health insurance

A person in a mask walk by a closed barber shop and closed watch repair shop.
Jobs, and the health insurance tied to them, are evaporating. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Roughly 27 million people have likely have lost job-based health coverage since the coronavirus shocked the economy, according to new estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Why it matters: Most of these people will be able sign up for other sources of coverage, but millions are still doomed to be uninsured in the midst of a pandemic.

By the numbers: For the 27 million people who are losing their job-based coverage, about 80% have other options, said Rachel Garfield, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation and lead author of the report.

  • Roughly half are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • Another third are eligible for subsidized health plans on the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces.
  • The remaining 20% are pretty much out of luck because they live in a state that didn't expand Medicaid or are ineligible for other kinds of subsidized coverage.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's latest coronavirus relief bill would fully subsidize the cost of maintaining an employer plan through COBRA — an option that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive for many people. But that's a long way from becoming law.

The bottom line: The coronavirus is blowing up health insurance at a time when people need it most.

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