Jul 27, 2020
As of early May, 27 million Americans had lost health care coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This number represents mostly people who got laid off, plus their family members. Considering that nearly 30 million people were already uninsured at the beginning of the pandemic, close to 60 million people, or one in five Americans, were without health insurance in early May.
Kaiser Family Foundation says that many of these unemployed workers will either qualify for Medicaid, or for a subsidy to buy an individual plan in the ACA marketplace. But of course that means millions more people will be stuck with plans with much worse coverage and much higher out-of-pocket costs than what they had before.
As for those millions of people who have ended up without any coverage, it may mean complete financial ruin for a family in this pandemic. If somebody in the family is hospitalized with COVID-19 for a lengthy period of time, the bills can easily run into tens, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Also, when there are people without health coverage during a pandemic, that makes all of us less safe, because people with no insurance—or with a plan that has high deductibles and co-pays—tend to avoid going to the doctor when they are sick, and spread the disease.
What’s the purpose of health insurance if one out of five people in the country can’t even have it during a pandemic? To big capitalists, health insurance, or health care in general, is just another way to make big profits. But that means, under this capitalist system, even fewer of us have access to health care, exactly when we—ALL of us—need it more than ever.