Hard numbers on how virus-related job losses have affected health coverage are not available because the most reliable government surveys will not be out until next year. Estimates range from 5 million to 10 million newly uninsured people. That’s on top of 26 million uninsured last year, before the pandemic, or about 8% of the U.S. population.
“There is a coverage crisis happening, ” said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert now with Families USA, a liberal advocacy group. “And there are fewer resources available to help, thanks to the Trump cuts.”
Dorn worries that’s “a setup for epic failure,” and many people will remain uninsured even as states across the country are seeing alarming increases in coronavirus cases.
Administration officials say HealthCare.gov is open for business and ready to handle sign-ups online or via its call center. “We’ll be working through the upcoming open enrollment period…to ensure a smooth user experience,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.
More than 11 million people currently have coverage through HealthCare.gov and state-run health insurance markets offering subsidized private plans. The health law also covers another 12 million people through its Medicaid expansion, adopted by all but 12 states.
Medicaid enrollment has gone up by nearly 4 million people since March, but it’s still unclear how many laid-off workers are coping after the loss of employer coverage in the coronavirus economy.