12.7 million workers have likely lost employer-provided health insurance since the coronavirus shock began

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12.7 million workers have likely lost employer-provided health insurance since the coronavirus shock began

Since the economic fallout of the coronavirus shock began in early March, the number of workers laid-off or furloughed—as measured by new claims for unemployment insurance (UI)—has skyrocketed. We have used data from states that track UI claims by industry to get a rough estimate of how many workers are at high risk of losing their employer-provided health insurance (EPHI) over this as well.

The methodology is described in this blog post, and the underlying data (which has begun to include more and more states tracking UI claims by industry) can be found here. Table 1 below shows UI claims by industry across states that collect this data, and also shows employer-provided health insurance (EPHI) coverage rates in those industries in 2018. As of April 30, just under 28 million workers had been laid off or furloughed since early March. We find that this translates into likely EPHI losses of 12.7 million.

Because the United States is unique among rich countries in tying health insurance benefits to employment, many of the newly unemployed will suddenly face prohibitively costly insurance options. A comprehensive policy solution would be to extend Medicare and Medicaid to all those suffering job losses during the pandemic period, with the federal government funding this expansion. It has been proposed that the federal government pay for all of COBRA coverage so that workers who are laid off or furloughed may continue their employer-provided coverage. While this policy proposal will help many workers continue coverage, in some states it will not help workers from small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, who are not eligible for COBRA.

The linkage between specific jobs and the availability of health insurance is a prime source of inefficiency and inequity in the U.S. health system. It is especially terrifying for workers to lose their health insurance as a result of, and during, an ongoing pandemic.

New UI claims and employer-provided health insurance (EPHI) losses between March 15 and April 25, by industry

Industry Total job losses (UI initial claims) Share of workers with EPHI EPHI job losses Total job losses as a share of industry employment
Accommodation and Food Services 5,999,148 23.9% 1,431,437 41.5%
Admin. and Support, Waste Mgmt. and Remediation Services 2,299,425 39.1% 899,754 24.1%
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting 78,616 29.4% 23,091 5.7%
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 1,051,318 37.4% 393,401 36.0%
Construction 1,625,317 44.5% 722,736 20.8%
Educational Services 605,876 61.6% 373,250 5.3%
Finance and Insurance 192,162 70.5% 135,473 3.1%
Health Care and Social Assistance 3,461,061 56.8% 1,965,556 15.5%
Information 404,133 61.9% 250,033 13.4%
Management of Companies and Enterprises 223,750 63.6% 142,345 9.2%
Manufacturing 3,046,647 69.3% 2,112,061 23.5%
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 103,358 74.7% 77,162 15.2%
Other Services (except Public Administration) 1,574,097 33.3% 524,961 34.0%
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 1,019,746 61.0% 622,080 10.5%
Public Administration 210,111 70.4% 147,978 2.7%
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 399,429 46.5% 185,804 16.9%
Retail Trade 3,693,112 40.8% 1,506,250 23.6%
Transportation and Warehousing 984,792 58.5% 575,847 15.5%
Utilities 13,176 77.1% 10,160 1.6%
Wholesale Trade 898,072 61.5% 552,042 15.1%
All industries 27,883,344 45.4% 12,651,422 18.8%

We additionally allocate EPHI losses across states, taking account of each states’ industry mix (again, the precise methodology for this calculation can be found here). The map below shows these losses allocated across states.

Estimated new UI claims and employer-provided health insurance (EPHI) losses between March 15 and April 25, by state

State Total job losses (UI initial claims) EPHI job losses Total job losses as a share of industry employment
Alabama 406,732 191,304 20.5%
Alaska 71,606 32,193 21.2%
Arizona 473,802 209,633 16.5%
Arkansas 176,895 83,963 14.8%
California 3,675,346 1,654,389 20.9%
Colorado 338,516 150,600 12.3%
Connecticut 261,686 122,374 15.9%
Delaware 79,222 34,696 17.8%
Washington D.C. 72,431 29,955 9.5%
Florida 1,592,236 687,286 18.2%
Georgia 1,367,494 630,178 30.5%
Hawaii 194,437 77,160 30.4%
Idaho 117,253 52,308 15.4%
Illinois 818,917 375,184 13.7%
Indiana 569,847 272,648 18.6%
Iowa 260,729 123,491 16.8%
Kansas 215,722 102,085 15.7%
Kentucky 590,829 277,814 31.4%
Louisiana 508,202 226,466 26.8%
Maine 108,874 47,884 17.3%
Maryland 385,664 170,200 14.4%
Massachusetts 725,018 326,320 20.0%
Michigan 1,261,121 590,684 29.0%
Minnesota 556,651 258,771 19.1%
Mississippi 201,890 93,529 17.9%
Missouri 452,126 207,711 16.2%
Montana 89,426 37,673 18.8%
Nebraska 104,177 48,290 10.6%
Nevada 386,705 146,316 27.6%
New Hampshire 159,993 71,868 24.0%
New Jersey 889,480 402,074 22.3%
New Mexico 118,462 51,196 14.2%
New York 1,609,842 728,213 17.1%
North Carolina 747,303 339,936 16.7%
North Dakota 57,168 26,658 13.6%
Ohio 1,056,695 490,764 19.4%
Oklahoma 273,958 125,446 17.1%
Oregon 278,852 125,657 14.3%
Pennsylvania 1,620,512 746,558 27.3%
Puerto Rico 217,739 98,249 25.2%
Rhode Island 145,615 63,256 30.0%
South Carolina 413,542 186,508 19.5%
South Dakota 33,743 15,519 7.7%
Tennessee 425,668 195,050 14.1%
Texas 1,555,995 707,651 12.4%
Utah 137,256 62,808 9.1%
Vermont 56,122 25,377 18.1%
Virginia 567,534 255,227 14.5%
Virgin Islands 552 214 1.7%
Washington 857,697 390,539 24.5%
West Virginia 123,828 57,361 18.3%
Wisconsin 442,581 211,320 15.3%
Wyoming 29,653 12,869 10.7%

Note: EPHI losses are estimated unemployment insurance (UI) claims associated with employer-provided health insurance loss.





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