Job losses during the COVID-19 economic crash kicked 69,000 Alabamians off their health insurance between February and May, according to a new report by Families USA, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C.
Those coverage losses increased Alabama’s uninsured rate for non-elderly adults to 19%, the report finds. That is the ninth highest rate in the nation and 3 percentage points higher than in 2018. As workers and their families lose comprehensive health insurance, their risk of delayed care and complications from the virus increases. So does their risk of financial devastation.
“Even before COVID-19, Alabama’s failure to expand Medicaid left more than 220,000 adults uninsured,” Alabama Arise campaign director Jane Adams said. “Further coverage losses during the recession will bring health and financial suffering for even more families across our state. More people will go without needed health care. More hospital bills will go unpaid. And all Alabamians will bear the additional strain on our health care system. This report’s findings should be a blaring emergency siren for our state leaders.”
The number of uninsured adults jumped by 5.4 million nationally between February and May. The increase in those few months was 39% higher than any annual increase ever recorded, Families USA finds. The report also shows a disturbing overlap between states with the highest adult uninsured rates and the worst COVID-19 case trends.
“COVID-19 is putting lives, livelihoods and economic security at risk for thousands of Alabama workers. And many communities face long-term challenges for health care capacity and economic recovery,” Adams said.
“Alabama Arise and Cover Alabama urge Gov. Kay Ivey to save lives and stabilize our local hospitals by expanding Medicaid. We ask the Legislature to provide the needed state share of this pro-family, pro-health, pro-community investment in our future. And we ask Congress to strengthen Medicaid funding and help Alabama shore up our health care infrastructure.”
Adams directs Cover Alabama, a coalition of more than 90 organizations pushing for Medicaid expansion in Alabama. Arise is a founding member of the coalition.