Jul 13, 2020 - Health

Study: 5.4 million Americans lost health insurance this year

Reproduced from Families USA; Cartogram: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Families USA; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

Roughly 5.4 million adults in the U.S. lost their health insurance from February to May after losing their jobs, according to a new estimate from Families USA, a group that favors the Affordable Care Act.

Why it matters: There are more adults under 65 without insurance in Southern states which are the same states setting new records for single-day coronavirus infections along with rising hospitalizations.

What they found: 3.9 million adults lost health insurance over one year during the Great Recession, per Families USA's analysis. It only took four months in this current crisis for an estimated 5.4 million Americans to lose health insurance.

  • More than 20% of adults in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas were without insurance as of May.
  • All of these states have set new records in the past two weeks for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, per data from the COVID Tracking Project.
  • 46% of adults who lost coverage caused by the pandemic came from five states, per Families USA: Florida, New York, Texas, California, and North Carolina.

The backdrop: 21 million Americans were unemployed in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' nonfarm payrolls report.

Between the lines: Southern states tend to have at-risk populations and weak health care systems, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • Many of the Southern states that are experiencing a significant surge in coronavirus infections "stepped on the gas" while lifting lockdown restrictions, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx told Wharton Business Daily last week.

What's next: Definitive data on how many Americans have lost health coverage will not be available from the federal government until mid-2021 or later that year, the New York Times reports.

Methodology: Families USA estimated the number of uninsured workers in each state for 2020 from BLS data, Urban Institute research and Kaiser Family Foundation data. The consumer group estimated national health insurance levels from 2005-2017 from IPUMS-CPS at the University of Minnesota.

Estimates of total uninsured adults in May 2020 combine (1) estimates from 2018, the most recent year for which pre-COVID-19 data are available for all 50 states, with (2) coverage losses estimated to result from job losses from February through May 2020.

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