Pandemic Leaves Millions Uninsured

By Joshua Beltran, Research Assistant, Center for Health Equity Engagement Education and Research

The pandemic continues to impact the lives of millions of Americans every day, with the amount of cases rising. As time has passed the pandemic has caused a ripple effect that impedes our recovery. An example being the millions of Americans who have lost health insurance due to job loss. According to this article, there has been an estimated 5.4 million American adults who have lost health insurance during February to May of 2020.

Reproduced from Families USA; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

The loss of employment is already a hefty burden to bear but the added weight of insurance loss can make the situation seem hopeless.  Additionally, health insurance is a vital key during a pandemic, especially if you contract the virus and require hospitalization. Admittedly, the number is astounding, especially given the time frame. In comparison the article notes that “3.9 million adults lost health insurance over one year during the Great Recession” while it took only four months to reach the estimated 5.4 million. I feel this really puts things in perspective on how this pandemic is shaping the world. Additionally, the article mentions that 21 million Americans were unemployed in May of this year. While it’s important to note that the number of unemployed listed isn’t solely COVID-19 related, a good number of them can list it as the cause. As the number of cases rises in some states it’s likely the number of unemployed and uninsured will increase as well. All of this information should be cause for concern for a few reasons. First, health insurance and employment are vital necessities to individual and community health, they’re both considered social determinants of health. Second, the economy can suffer from both of these losses, unemployment never helps an economy but neither does a population that is in debt from medical expenses. Also, those that are losing both their jobs and insurance are probably the population that desperately need both. Even if cases begin to steadily reduce, I believe it will take a significant amount of time to recover from the damages this pandemic has caused.