September 2, 2020 | Updates

Reminder: Americans Have Access To Quality Coverage Options; Let’s Strengthen Them, Not Start Over

WASHINGTON – As America’s health care leaders are working together to defeat and overcome COVID-19, millions of Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care through existing private plans and public programs. During this critical time, our health care system is providing a safety net for those who need access to health care coverage. In fact, 79 percent of Americans who are newly uninsured are eligible for publicly-subsidized coverage. 

And a new study from the Economic Policy Institute reiterates that “public health insurance rolls are expanding to absorb the enormous ESI coverage losses of recent months.” The study finds that “Medicaid and the individual market have proved to be key alternatives for these people, along with temporary COBRA coverage,” Fierce Healthcare reports. Meanwhile, a new analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation urges authors’ studies of COVID-19 related uninsured rates to “clarify how they fit into the ‘larger picture of what remains unknown’ to better help policymakers figure out what to do,” POLITICO reports. That’s because the report adds that “net changes in insurance coverage thus far have been small,” and “data on changes in coverage are not yet available.”

Let’s build on and improve what’s working where private coverage, Medicare, and Medicaid work together instead of starting over with a one-size-fits-all government health insurance system that would force Americans to pay more for worse care.  

The Current Health Care System Is Providing Access To Care For Millions Of Americans Through Existing Coverage Options 

  • Monthly premiums for coverage on the health insurance marketplaces were down three percent during this year’s enrollment period compared to 2019. (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, 4/1/20)
  • At least 8.4 million Americans are eligible for marketplace subsidies this year and that number will increase to 12.4 million by 2021. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 5/13/20)
  • The health insurance marketplaces will be an important safety net for newly unemployed Americans. (Axios, 4/15/20)
  • Of the 27 million Americans estimated to lose their ESI following job loss, 19 million are estimated to maintain coverage through the employer of a working spouse or parent. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 5/13/20)
  • Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in March, nearly 162,000 people have enrolled in health care coverage through the state-based marketplaces (The Commonwealth Fund, 5/19/20)
  • 11 states and Washington, D.C. are offering Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) to ensure access to health care coverage. (The Commonwealth Fund, 5/19/20)
  • While not all Americans are residents of a state that offered a SEP, allows for enrollment outside of the annual-open period, which is triggered by the loss of minimum essential coverage. (The Commonwealth Fund, 5/19/20)

While Marketplaces Provide Americans With Access To Affordable Plans, Programs Such As Medicaid And The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Are Also Helping American Families Maintain Coverage

  • 12.7 million Americans are eligible for Medicaid, and that number will grow to 17 million by 2021. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 5/13/20)
  • Health Management Associates estimates Medicaid enrollment could increase by 5 to 18 million Americans by the end of 2020, depending on the economy. (Health Management Associates, 5/19/20)
  • Nearly 7 million children whose parents lose their insurance through their employer will be eligible for coverage through Medicaid or CHIP. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 5/13/20)

Polling Shows Support For Building On What’s Working in Health Care  

  • The vast majority of Americans with employer provided coverage are satisfied. We shouldn’t permanently eliminate or jeopardize the health care millions of Americans rely on and are happy with when there are options to cover those who lose their employer provided coverage due to the COVID-19 crisis. (Gallup, 12/9/20)
  • The third edition of Voter Vitals – a tracking poll conducted nationwide and in 2020 battleground states by Locust Street Group for the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future – finds that “72% of voters are unwilling to pay any more for health care and 66% are unwilling to pay any more in taxes for universal coverage,” and a majority of Americans do not support one-size-fits-all government-controlled health insurance while a supermajority of Americans (66 percent) prefer to build on our current health system rather than replace it with something new (34 percent).  
  • “Americans continue to prefer a healthcare system based on private insurance (54%) over a government-run healthcare system (42%),” according to Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare poll, which finds that a government-controlled health insurance system “remains the minority view in the U.S.  This could create a challenge in a general election campaign for a Democratic presidential nominee advocating a ‘Medicare for All’ or other healthcare plan that would greatly expand the government’s role in the healthcare system.”
  • And a recent survey by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, finds that Americans “are still more likely to prefer the private sector than the government on driving innovation in health care, improving quality and … providing coverage,” The Associated Press reports.


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