Sep 17, 2020 - Health

Racial disparities during pandemic extend to health coverage losses

Reproduced from Avalere Health; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Avalere Health; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic has exacerbated a racial disparity in insurance coverage, in addition to its myriad other racial inequities, per a new Avalere analysis.

Why it matters: Before the pandemic, Black and Latino Americans were already much less likely than white Americans to have employer-based coverage. And now they're losing that coverage at a greater rate.

Between the lines: Workers of color have seen higher employment declines than white workers.

  • Many people who lost their employer coverage will be able to turn to Medicaid or subsidized plans through the Affordable Care Act, but those aren't as generous as typical employer plans.
  • "Overall, the shift away from employer-sponsored insurance could be challenging for patients," said Avalere's Tom Kornfield. "Many of these patients could face less generous benefit design, greater cost sharing, and more limited formularies in Medicaid or in the individual market."

And Medicaid may not be an option for people in states that haven't expanded the program — which are heavily concentrated in the South.

  • Even before the pandemic, Black Americans in non-expansion states were more likely to be uninsured than white Americans in those states. Non-expansion states also generally have higher Black populations than expansion states.

Related: As of this month, 26% of Black Americans are uninsured — a sharp increase from 17% in February, according to a new survey by Civis Analytics.

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