In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, 35 million Americans could soon face having no employer healthcare coverage. In a press conference last week, President Trump stated that “it doesn’t seem fair,” and hinted at expanding Medicare and Medicaid to help cover the many who are uninsured.
With the growing number of Americans unemployed, and health insurance in the U.S. generally tied to employment, many are without proper health insurance right now. This is a crisis for which we have no recent precedent, and there needs to be a plan in place.
The Trump administration also considered reopening the Obamacare marketplace for people to sign up, but decided against that. In response to this decision, Presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted, “This callous decision will cost lives. Period.” The Obamacare exchanges are open in certain states to those who’ve recently lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Certain states have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but many states have not, leaving people without extra coverage. Thirteen states run their own Obamacare marketplaces, and all have reopened enrollment, with a large number of enrollees clambering to sign up for insurance.
Those who are unemployed may be eligible for special enrollment periods or COBRA, which is costly.
Medicare for All?
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) argue that every American should be covered now. Cortez recently tweeted: “We need to drop the Medicare eligibility age to 0 right now.”
The huge $2 trillion relief package of the CARES Act should take care of most of the costs of treating coronavirus, but without a clear plan in place for insurance, Americans are left feeling the heaviness of the uncertainty.
Stay tuned to Medicare World for the latest in President Trump and Vice President Pence’s decision on providing a Medicare or Medicaid healthcare option for the growing number of unemployed.