Because Of COVID-19: People Are Losing Health Insurance
Community engagement specialist Brittani Howell spoke with Mark Fairchild, Director of Public Policy at Covering Kids & Families of Indiana; Calvin Roberson, Vice President of Planning and Program Development at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition; and Adam Mueller, Director of Advocacy at Indiana Legal Services. The following is a summary of the conversation.
What do we know about the number of Hoosiers who have lost their jobs, or currently don’t have jobs, and have lost their insurance?
In April, Indiana saw about 560,000 Hoosiers losing employment, Fairchild said. The number is now lower than 400,000 and trending downward.
“We've recovered dramatically, but that still is going to leave over 10% of Hoosiers without a job. And related to that, of course, the insurance that goes with that impacts not just them, but their family members too,” Fairchild said. Counting the spouses and children who may have been covered by family plans, he estimates that upwards of a million Hoosiers may have lost employer-sponsored health coverage during the pandemic.
The loss of health insurance doesn’t fall equally on everyone, as some sectors of the economy have been hit harder than others, like hospitality and service jobs.
“That's in a sector that has a very high amount of minority and new immigrant population working on it,” Fairchild said. “So even if they had health coverage offered, that option is off the table for a massive amount of folks.” Additionally, the insurance offered may not have been comprehensive or affordable--if it was accessible at all.
In general, people of color are at higher risk of being uninsured than white people, according to a 2019 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. They are also more likely to live with chronic health conditions, including many that put people at greater risk for COVID-related complications and deaths.