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New Report: Pandemic to Add Millions to Uninsured Rolls

As the country slides deeper into a recession because of the coronavirus pandemic, more individuals may avoid hospitals or other emergency care due to lack of health insurance. (Adobe Stock)
As the country slides deeper into a recession because of the coronavirus pandemic, more individuals may avoid hospitals or other emergency care due to lack of health insurance. (Adobe Stock)
May 12, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. -- A new report finds 43 million Americans could lose their employer-sponsored health coverage under worst-case-scenario unemployment projections as the country slides deeper into a recession.

The findings from the Urban Institute highlight the crippling effect the coronavirus pandemic is likely to have on families' access to health care. Eliot Fishman, senior director of health policy at Families USA, said while some individuals may qualify for Medicaid, millions of those likely to become uninsured will face tough choices.

"For people that don't have health insurance and then have to go to the emergency room or go to the hospital, they are at grave risk financially, but at the same time, they are at grave risk physically," Fishman said. "And not just them, but their neighbors and their communities are at risk."

According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 7% of North Dakota residents are uninsured.

North Dakota expanded its Medicaid program in 2014. Fishman said states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will see a higher number of uninsured residents as COVID-19 continues to paralyze the economy.

"This is not a time to be placing administrative barriers in the way of people accessing health insurance and ultimately accessing health care," he said.

An estimated 160 million people nationwide under age 65 had health insurance through their employer just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Then, 30 million workers filed for unemployment during March and April, according to federal data.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - ND