Health insurance coverage is taking a hit due to COVID-19, and the loss of coverage is coming down hardest on Black Americans and young people, according to a new survey from Finn Partners.
“The State of Health Insurance in COVID-19 America,” which was conducted by Civis Analytics, surveyed U.S. adults in February, June and September. It found that the rate of uninsured Americans rose 2.7 percent (to 14.7 percent) between February and September, adding 6.7 million people to the ranks of the uninsured.
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For Black Americans the rise in the uninsured rate was much steeper, going from 17 percent in February to 26 percent in September. White Americans saw only a one percent jump, from 11 to 12 percent, in the same period.
The highest uninsured rate (27 percent) was found among people between 18 and 26, and those without a high school diploma.
Respondents to the September survey said that a big part of the overall jump in the number of uninsured Americans was caused by the pandemic. While eight percent of white respondents said that COVID-19 was behind their loss of insurance, that number rises to 10.4 percent for Black respondents. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of Black respondents who had lost their coverage due to COVID-19 remain uninsured.
Perhaps even more disturbing, many people who have lost their coverage say they are not making any plans to replace it. Almost half (46 percent) of currently uninsured respondents said they were not planning to purchase health insurance this year, up significantly from the 33 percent who said the same thing in February.
Most of those who remain insured (76 percent) said they have no plans to change their current coverage. That number was slightly lower for those who considered themselves to be in excellent health (65 percent) or poor health (72 percent).
When it comes to what they are looking for in a health insurance plan, a majority of respondents (62 percent) said that affordability was a “very important” factor, with 52 percent saying that services and drugs covered, and being to see their preferred providers were major considerations.
“These Civis survey data lay bare the far-reaching impacts of systemic racism in America—and the consequences of an insurance system tied to employment,” said Gil Bashe, managing director of Finn’s global health practice. “COVID-19's racial impacts are not confined to medical challenges. The pandemic is making it more difficult for people of color to continue to work and, as a result of those job losses, to retain the security that health insurance provides, which enables people to access preventive medical care.”
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