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Analysis

COVID-19 Will Result in an Estimated 3.5M Uninsured by End of 2020

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   July 23, 2020

Other new research shows that health insurance losses were happening well before the pandemic.

Two new issue briefs from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute paint a picture of falling insurance coverage in the United States, both before the COVID-19 pandemic and because of it.

The first looked at preliminary estimates of coverage loss because of the COVID-19 recession. The researchers used the Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model to simulate employment losses for the last three quarters of 2020.

It estimates in that time frame:

  • 48 million people will live in families with a worker who experiences a COVID-19-related job loss
     
  • Of those, 10.1 million (21%) will lose employer coverage tied to that job
     
  • 32% of these people will switch to another source of employer coverage through a family member
     
  • 28% will enroll in Medicaid
     
  • 6% will enroll in the nongroup market
     
  • 3.5 million people will become uninsured

However, other new research shows that health insurance losses were happening well before the pandemic—from 2017-2018—and even during a period marked by falling unemployment and a strong economy.

The latest issue brief examined changes in health coverage between 2017 and 2018.

It found that uninsurance rose even as unemployment fell, perhaps because higher incomes made people ineligible for Medicaid.

It also found that states that did not expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act had larger increases in uninsurance than Medicaid expansion states.

For this issue brief, researchers triangulated results from three surveys: the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, and the National Health Interview Survey. 

Two other issues briefs, also from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute, earlier this month connected the dots between losing work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and avoiding healthcare due to cost or concerns about contracting COVID-19.

They showed that almost half of families that lost work avoided healthcare.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.


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