The American health care system leaves us all vulnerable to massive costs and uneven access, even under the best of circumstances. But when the economy goes south, things get really awful.
The novel coronavirus pandemic and the United States’ feckless response to the outbreak has triggered a historic economic downturn that has cost tens of millions of jobs. Because almost half of the country ― about 160 million workers, spouses and dependents ― get their health coverage through an employer, those lost jobs almost always mean lost health insurance.
Between February and May, an estimated 5.4 million people became uninsured because of job loss, according to the liberal advocacy organization Families USA. The group describes this as the largest loss of job-based health benefits in U.S. history, worse even than during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.
And job losses have continued to mount since May, meaning