The coronavirus pandemic has already led to millions of worker layoffs which have resulted in more than 1.5 million people losing their employer-provided health insurance.
A new research study, Intersecting U.S. Epidemics: COVID-19 and Lack of Health Insurance, claims another 5.7 million will also likely become uninsured by June.
“During the final week of March 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that a record number of workers—6.648 million—filed new claims for unemployment benefits. That beat the previous record of 3.307 million filings, which was set the week before, bringing the 2-week total to 9.955 million,” says the report.
This issue really sheds light on a healthcare system that relies significantly on employer-based insurance.
“Millions of Americans are newly vulnerable to financial catastrophe, as we face an epidemic of life-threatening illness. The COVID-19 epidemic highlights the folly of tying health coverage to jobs. Our health care system saddles people with medical bills when they’re least able to afford them because they’ve been laid off or are too sick to work. Health insurance in the U.S. is like an umbrella that melts in the rain,” says co-author of the study Dr. Steffie Woolhandler.
According to Common Dreams, while expanding Medicare for the out-of-work and uninsured would be a short-term way to stem the pain for millions, advocates for Medicare for All—including Himmelstein and Woolhandler (the co-authors of the report)—say that the coronavirus may finally be the catastrophe that wakes the nation up to the need for a permanent solution to its healthcare woes and the unsustainable and inhumane design of the current for-profit system.