With coronavirus layoffs surging, there is a danger that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance. More than half of all Americans are insured through their employers, so the loss of a job is not just a hit to household budgets; it also means exposure to higher health care costs.
A study by Health Management Associates in Michigan projected that, if unemployment hits 10%, a total of 128,000 Iowans could lose the insurance they now receive through their employers; in Illinois, that figure would be 487,000.
As a result, the study said, Iowa could see 115,000 new people enroll in its Medicaid program, or the expanded Medicaid option created through Obamacare. In Illinois, it could see a increases totaling 452,000 people.
Others who lose insurance would probably seek coverage through the Obamacare marketplace or, unfortunately, join the ranks of the uninsured.
These are big numbers; and if the jobless rate goes higher, the numbers get even bigger.
We’ve said it before. We don’t know how bad the economic fallout will get from this public health crisis, or how long it will last, but the financial implications are big. Medicaid is already one of the biggest line items in state budgets across the country, and this could push the costs even higher. The federal government picks up the vast majority of the bill for those who enroll through the Obamacare-related expansion plans, but the states also see a financial impact.
The federal government has taken unprecedented action to backstop businesses and workers to try to tide them over during this public health crisis, promising to deliver money soon to help sustain employment and pay bills. Congress and the White House also must treat health insurance as vital to the well-being and health of all Americans. As such, this, too, needs to be part of the calculus when deciding on a future aid package.
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