Millions of Americans Lose Their Health Insurance Along With Their Jobs

In the last two years, most Americans who lost jobs with health-insurance benefits also became uninsured.The massive job losses during the Great Recession not only hit Americans' bank accounts, but also -- in some cases -- their health. A new report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that backs health-policy research, estimates that 9 million adults lost their health insurance in the last two years.

In the U.S., the loss of a job also often comes with the loss of health insurance. According to the Commonwealth Fund survey, nearly a quarter (24%) of working-age adults -- an estimated 43 million -- had either lost their job or dealt with their spouse losing their job within the past two years. Of those who lost a job with health benefits, a majority (57%) also became uninsured.

"This survey tells a story of millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the recession, lost their health benefits too, and had essentially no place to turn for affordable health care coverage -- putting their health and financial security at risk," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said in a statement.

Going Solo Proves Tough

Without their jobs, the unemployed have had great difficulty finding affordable coverage. Only 25% of those who lost their employer health insurance were able to get coverage through their spouse or other means, and only 14% continued their job-based coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, better known as COBRA.

Many others tried to purchase individual coverage. But in the past three years, nearly three-quarters (71%) of the adults who tried to go it alone either had difficulty finding a plan that fit their needs or that they could afford, or were turned down for coverage -- or charged a higher price -- because of a pre-existing condition.

The Commonwealth Fund estimates that 52 million American adults (28% of working-age adults) found themselves uninsured at some point during 2010, up from 38 million (24%) in 2001.

Unsurprisingly, the situation was much worse for those who earn less. Some 54% of lower-income adults and 41% of moderate-income adults were uninsured for some time during the year, compared with only 13% of adults with higher incomes.

Skipping Health Care

Meanwhile, a whopping 60% more adults -- both insured and uninsured -- say they skimped on health care because of the cost in 2010 than in 2001. An estimated 75 million adults skipped doctor visits, failed to fill prescriptions or otherwise avoided health care to save money, according to the survey.

Back in November, another Commonwealth study back found that Americans are by far the most likely, among residents of industrialized nations, to go without health care because of costs.

More Americans -- insured and uninsured -- also are spending large shares of their income on health care and are having problems paying their medical bills or are paying off medical debt.

The result? Americans are making significant sacrifices: An estimated 29 million people have used up all of their savings to pay medical bills, while 22 million were unable to pay for basic necessities like food and 4 million declared bankruptcy as a result.

Affordable Care Act to "Bring Relief"

But there are some signs that the situation could improve. The Affordable Care Act provisions that are already in place are bringing some relief, the study authors claim.

"The silver lining is that the Affordable Care Act has already begun to bring relief to families," Davis says. "Once the new law is fully implemented, we can be confident that no future recession will have the power to strip so many Americans of their health security."

Once the law fully takes effect in 2014, nearly all the the 52 million Americans who are uninsured -- including those who lost their insurance during the recession -- will have access to comprehensive health insurance coverage, according to the report.

That could be an optimistic estimate, however. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the law will extend coverage to about 32 million people by 2019.

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soulsista

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April 06 2011 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ageknowledge

I lost my job, then my money, then my health, and am facing homelessness. I worked for private corporations for 25 years. The retirement got rolled out with penalties to pay for food and housing. Now I may lose my indigent medical care too.

March 22 2011 at 12:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
obamamoochele

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many
others her age, she considered herself to be very liberal, and among other
liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more
government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch conservative, a
feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had
participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that
her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he
thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on
the rich and the need for more government programs.

The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the
truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she
was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let
him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a
very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no
time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have
time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because
she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, “How is your friend Audrey doing?”

She replied, “Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes,
she never studies and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on
campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the
parties and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because
she's too hung over.”

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don't you go to the Dean's office
and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only
has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would
be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired
back, “That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really
hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work!
Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I
worked my tail off!”

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, “Welcome to the
conservative side of the fence.”

If anyone has a better explanation of the difference between conservative
and liberal or progressive or neocon I'm all ears.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you ever wondered what side of the fence you sit on, this is a great
test!

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one.
If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for
everyone.

If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his
situation.
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.
(Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for
it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a conservative reads this, he'll forward it so his friends can have a
good laugh.
A liberal will delete it because he's "offended."

March 18 2011 at 8:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john&terry

The Obamacare is a pie in the sky The bill has hidden fees and taxes , the writer chose to not even address This so called writer is also ignoring the fact that his messiah has granted waivers for many company,s unions, and his bro,s the muslims The fact is this is all smoke and mirrors from the liberals , you know those fine folks Who cant face reallity with the numbers You sir are very dilusional your utopia does not exist or ever will

March 17 2011 at 2:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
kingman99

What's get's me is that millions are losing their health care and yet city, state and federal workers get free health care for life and we are paying for it!!!!!!!!

March 17 2011 at 12:46 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
jmtlfix

Employment and Health insurance is over-rated. Obamacare will take care of all of our problems!

March 17 2011 at 12:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
bob

ever really think the demos weren't planning this for years? force a health bill on them, keep unemployment high, MAKE them want it. they will do anything to control the vote. mostly promises, promises, but so many buy it.

March 17 2011 at 10:36 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bob's comment
inasctg56

And Fidelity reported that health insurers costs went down, but are not lowering our costs or premiums - just more walking away with record profits - but we don't need reform.

March 17 2011 at 10:22 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to inasctg56's comment
bggdg

Fidelity reported that health insurers costs have decreased? Was this part of their report on flying pigs?

March 17 2011 at 11:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
donut999

this article points out fairly well the need for some kind of universal health care. have not seen any comments on here from people who lost jobs, then health care. what happens with many is a health problem arrives, they go for an
$800 ER trip which they never pay for rather than a sick visit to a doctor or clinic with a $50 co-pay. then, if it is serious, they get admitted, rack $7-15,000 in charges and because of their already distressed condition wind up filing bankruptcy. the charges the hospital writes off are then blended/appropriated to fee schedules for services which results in increased insurer costs which they in turn passed on to the whole world. i doubt most of the people who rave about obama care have a clue about how it really works. the intent, if successful, is to try to do something to avoid the above.
these poor folks, now downtrodden enough to qualify do eventually wind up with health insurance of sorts. it is called medicaid.

March 17 2011 at 9:36 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to donut999's comment
shutuplyinglibs

Why did Obama not do anything about the Black Panther that said this hate speech"I hates crackas, every iota of a cracka, kill the crackas and their cracka babys'! Now Aol it is the Black Panthers words not mine. Facts are facts look it up. This is a question Aol and a fact. Just like this one. The Most Dangerous Place for Black Babies in the Womb? Aol just like this one. Obama to Republicans: "You can come along for the ride....but you'll have to ride in the back

March 17 2011 at 9:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to shutuplyinglibs's comment