Over the course of a year from 2008 to 2009, an estimated 3.9 million laid-off workers lost their health insurance in the recession. That was an annual record at the time, but the pandemic already has shattered it, reports the New York Times. An assessment by the nonpartisan group Families USA concludes that 5.4 million workers lost their health insurance between February and May. And that figure counts only the laid-off workers, not affected family members, notes the Hill. Factor in those people, and more than 27 million might be without insurance amid a national health crisis.
"We knew these numbers would be big," study author Stan Dorn tells the Times. "This is the worst economic downturn since World War II. It dwarfs the Great Recession. So it's not surprising that we would also see the worst increase in the uninsured." Southern states appear to be hit particularly hard, with more than 20% of adults without insurance in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Texas, reports Axios. COVID-19 cases are surging in all of those states, and, generally speaking, "Southern states tend to have at-risk populations and weak health care systems," writes Orion Rummler, citing this separate Axios story. (Read more health insurance stories.)