An analysis of U.S. Census Bureau survey data finds 3.3 million non-elderly adults in America lost employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) over the summer of 2020 during the COVID-19 recession.
As a result, researchers estimate 1.9 million adults became newly uninsured from late April through mid-July. Conducted by researchers at the Urban Institute with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study analyzes data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
Nearly half of those who lost ESI (1.6 million) were Hispanic adults, adding to earlier evidence that suggests Hispanic adults are disproportionately affected by the pandemic-related recession compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
The authors note younger adults (2.2 million), men (3.0 million) and adults who did not attend college (2.1 million) made up the majority of ESI losses. An estimated 1.8 million non-elderly adults lost ESI in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility requirements under the Affordable Care Act, whereas 1.5 million adults lost ESI in states that have not expanded.
Medicaid and other coverage options may have played a role in mitigating the overall number of uninsured people. The authors estimate that between late April and mid-July, an estimated 2.2 million adults gained public coverage. There was no significant change in private nongroup coverage during this period.
“These data provide more evidence that the economic dislocation resulting from the pandemic caused millions to lose their employer-sponsored coverage,” said Katherine Hempstead, senior policy adviser for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The danger of an inadequate safety net can be seen in the non-expansion states, where the number of uninsured adults has already increased more than 1 million.”