By ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Soaring unemployment numbers could translate into nearly 27 million people losing their health insurance, according to a new report.
“Between March 1st and May 2nd, 2020, more than 31 million people had filed for unemployment insurance,” notes the Kaiser Family Foundation report, which was released Wednesday.
“Actual loss of jobs and income are likely even higher, as some people may be only marginally employed or may not have filed for benefits,” the report states.
Along with losing their jobs, Americans who previously had health insurance coverage through their employers will lose that, too.
Eight states including California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Florida, Michigan and Ohio will account for roughly half of the people who lost health insurance they previously had through their job, the report estimated.
Those individuals may be eligible for subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act, for Medicaid, or may continue their employer insurance through COBRA.
But COBRA insurance is often expensive, since former employees generally pay the entire premium themselves. On average, annual COBRA insurance premiums are $7,188 for a single person and $20,576 for a family, according to KFF.
The losses not only come in the middle of a global pandemic but also when many Americans, even those with health insurance, are struggling to pay for medical care. Before the pandemic, 1 in 3 Americans said that they wouldn’t be able to pay a $400 medical bill without selling their belongings or borrowing money.
Government programs like Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act are crucial safety nets for the newly unemployed as the economic downturn continues. Yet the Trump administration continues to challenge the health care law, arguing that the Supreme Court should overturn it.
“Given the health risks facing all Americans right now, access to health coverage after loss of employment provides important protection against catastrophic health costs and facilitates access to needed care,” KFF notes.
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