May 13, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus likely forced 27 million off their health insurance

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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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We are nowhere near finished with the coronavirus, but the next phases of our response will — if we do it right — be more targeted and risk-based than the sweeping national lockdown we’re now emerging from.

Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.

Coronavirus' unequal economic toll

Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, almost half of all African American, Latino, and low-income Americans are having trouble paying their bills, including medical bills.

Why it matters: The findings from our latest KFF polling suggest that even if Congress’ relief efforts are helping, they’re not nearly enough.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Health experts fear that the protests breaking out across the U.S. could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The state of play: Being outside may limit the danger, but close quarters, yelling, and potential exposure to tear gas, which causes coughing and crying, increase the risk of spread. It's recommended that those who are protesting be tested for the coronavirus.