Coronavirus: New report shows grim view of health insurance loss

April 3, 2020

As the unemployment rate climbs the number of uninsured Americans will explode.

A new report on the uninsured rate in the U.S. casts a grim picture of what’s to come if the government does not act to insure the unemployed during the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The report, from Healthcare Management Administrators (HMA), found that if unemployment rises to 10 percent, 12 million people could be knocked off their employer’s insurance adding 11 million beneficiaries to Medicaid and increasing the ranks of the uninsured by 1 to 2 million.

This is the rosiest estimate laid out in the report.

If employment rises to 17.5 percent, an estimated 23 million people could lose their employer-sponsored plans and 17 million beneficiaries will be added to the rolls of Medicaid. In this scenario an additional 5 to 6 million people would lose insurance, the report says.

In the worst-case scenario examined by the report, with a 25 percent unemployment rate 35 million people would lose their employer’s insurance and an additional 23 million beneficiaries would be eligible for Medicaid. Uninsured rates would balloon by 10 to 11 million people leaving between 39 and 40 million people without health insurance.

The bleak picture presented by the report is becoming more likely by the day as the U.S. has seen an unprecedented spike in unemployment claims over the past two weeks. Congress has put expanded unemployment benefits in place and promised a $1,200 direct cash payment to the American public, but these benefits have not been quickly enacted and the checks could take weeks to arrive.

In an April 2 press briefing on the pandemic, President Donald J. Trump was asked what relief the unemployed could expect from the federal government in terms of health insurance. In answering, Trump said he would not reopen Affordable Care Act enrollment.

“We’re doing better than that,” Trump said. “We’re going to try and get a cash payment to the people and we’re working out the mechanics of that with legislature. So, we’re going to try and get them a cash payment because just opening it up doesn’t help as much.”

Previously, various healthcare groups have urged Trump to reopen the enrollment. COVID-19 treatment is expected to cost more than $20,000 for uninsured patients.

For all of our coronavirus coverage click here.