Millions Have Lost Health Insurance Coverage Amid Pandemic

Millions Have Lost Health Insurance Coverage Amid Pandemic

Black Americans, younger adults more likely to be uninsured
A concerned woman

While the pandemic has exacerbated health concerns for Americans across the country, a growing number find themselves facing these worries without health insurance.

Approximately 6.7 million people lost their health insurance coverage between February and September, according to a series of surveys conducted by data research firm Civis Analytics and global communications firm Finn Partners.

With Black Americans and young people disproportionately impacted, uncertainty around health insurance remains high as the country continues to battle the COVID-19 outbreak.

An uneven impact

Overall, 8% of Americans reported in September that they had lost their health insurance specifically due to the pandemic.

That figure was higher among Black Americans, with 10.4% reporting they had lost their health insurance because of the pandemic. Of that group, 23% said they were still uninsured when they were surveyed in September. In contrast, 6.8% of white Americans said in September they had lost their health insurance because of the coronavirus outbreak, and of that group, 8% remained uninsured.

The survey found similarly discrepancies when it comes to health insurance coverage overall:

  • Among Black Americans, 26% were uninsured in September, up from 17% in February and 21% in June
  • Among white Americans, 12% were uninsured in September, up from 11% in February and down slightly from 12.5% in June

Young people are also more likely to not have health insurance, the survey found. More than one-fourth — 27% — of those between the ages of 18 to 26 reported having no health insurance in September, up from 17% in February. Meanwhile, 12% of adults between the ages of 50 to 65 said they did not have health insurance in September, a slight increase from 11% in February.

Confusion reigns supreme

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have had questions about health insurance. In fact, a previous ValuePenguin survey found that 56% of Americans had no idea whether their health insurance plan would even cover COVID-19.

The Finn Partners-Civis Analytics survey found that some consumers are also uncertain about whether the pandemic has impacted their health insurance coverage. According to the survey, 3.5% of respondents said in September that they did not know whether they had lost health insurance coverage, up from 2.2% in February. While that percentage may appear low, it represents 3.2 million people who are not sure of the status of their health insurance coverage.

On top of that, many of those who have lost a job during the pandemic were uncertain about what health insurance options they might still qualify for. In June, when asked if they qualified for specific coverage options:

  • 41.3% did not know if they qualified for coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), a law that gives workers the right to continue their group health insurance temporarily after employment ends
  • 39.6% did not know if they qualified for the Affordable Care Act
  • 33.7% did not know if they would be eligible for benefits under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a program funded jointly by the federal government and state governments
  • 33.3% did not now if they would be able to qualify for Medicaid
  • 29.6% did not know if they would be able to join their spouse’s or partner's plan
  • 26.3% did not know if they would be able to join their parents’ plan

Methodology: Civis Analytics conducted three surveys: In February 2020 they surveyed 6,402 adults; in June they surveyed 3,680 adults, and in September they surveyed 3,002 adults.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.