NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

One Million May Lose Health Coverage In Recession

November 19, 2001

According to the Commonwealth Fund, nearly a million people in the United States are at risk of losing their health insurance as a result of the economic downturn and the September 11 attacks.

The spike in uninsured Americans is likely to put a strain on low-income health care programs like Medicaid as out-of-work Americans struggle to pay private health insurance premiums on dwindling incomes, concludes a report from Commonwealth. It also warns that:

  • Medicaid rolls could rise by as many as 3.3 million people (with and without health insurance through their jobs) lose income.
  • About 2.2 million Americans have lost jobs since November of last year, including about 415,000 since the terrorist attacks, according to federal labor statistics released last week.
  • Studies have suggested that as many as 37 percent of unemployed persons lack health insurance.

The Senate version of the economic stimulus bill contains provisions designed to help dislocated workers maintain health coverage. It would spend $6 billion this year for subsidies that would allow workers to continue buying health coverage for a limited time after losing their jobs.

Source: "Close to 1 million in US may lose health coverage," Reuters Health, November 14, 2001; based on Jeanne M. Lambrew, "How the Slowing U.S. Economy Threatens Employer-Based Health," November 2001, Commonwealth Fund.


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