Coronavirus Impact: Millions have lost jobs and health insurance; Here’s how to get coverage back in California


As unemployment skyrockets, so does the number of Americans who lose their job-based health insurance.

During the pandemic, health coverage is perhaps more important than ever. It is another of our approaches as we tell stories to build a better Bay Area.

Between March 1 and May 2 of this year, nearly 78 million people in the United States lived in a family in which someone lost a job.

RELATED: 1 Million Californians Might Lose Medical Care Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

A new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 61% of those people depend on employer-sponsored insurance.

Napa resident Rebecca Narvaez spoke to ABC7 News on the phone Wednesday night.

“I have no coverage at all, I am extremely stressed. I really want to get my asthma inhalers as soon as possible.”

Narvaez lost her job as a waitress, along with her health insurance, in March due to shelter-in-place orders that forced the restaurant she worked in to close.

“I have a five-year-old son and now he doesn’t have a doctor either … and that’s a really scary situation.”

An estimated 27 million newly unemployed workers and their dependents could lose health insurance if they don’t enroll in other coverage.

RELATED: Over 22 Million Californians Eligible for Free Medically Necessary COVID-19 Exams

According to the KFF study, nearly half of unemployed workers are eligible for Medicaid. Another 31% qualify for the Affordable Care Act subsidies.

The study indicates that 21% of unemployed workers are not eligible for subsidized care.

“We have a special enrollment period due to the COVID pandemic,” said Peter Lee, CEO of Covered California.

“2.5 times as many people have enrolled compared to last year. We are talking every day that thousands of Californians come and get insurance right away.”

Lee says that Covered California can enroll people in private and Medi-Cal plans.

“Now is not the time to roll the dice and decide to go without insurance,” said Lee.

RELATED: Federal Government to Pay COVID-19 Treatment for Uninsured, HHS Secretary Says

The KFF study shows that states like Texas, Georgia, and Florida, which did not expand Medicaid, will have large coverage gaps.

California expanded the grants to help more middle-class families.

“We don’t have gaps in California,” said Lee.

Kate Larsen: “Are you saying that anyone in California who lost their job and therefore their private insurance can find some form of coverage through California coverage?”

Peter Lee: “Absolutely. With one exception, if you are an undocumented immigrant, you may not be eligible for financial support.”

Narvaez called Covered California on Wednesday and was able to enroll in Medi-Cal. Your coverage begins June 1.

Enrollment is now open through the Covered California website and its phone lines.

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