EBRI Issue Brief

How Many Americans Have Lost Jobs With Employer Health Coverage During the Pandemic?

Oct 7, 2020 14  pages


ISSUE: During the COVID-19 pandemic, most states issued lockdown orders that closed many workplaces. The ensuing job losses may have left millions of workers without employer health coverage.

GOAL: To estimate how many workers lost jobs that came with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) — by industry, age, and gender — during the pandemic.

METHODS: Health insurance coverage data were used to generate the proportion of workers with ESI, by various characteristics. Data on unemployment benefit recipients were used to generate the proportion of workers who lost jobs because of the pandemic. We apply the proportion of workers with ESI to the number of workers who lost jobs to obtain an estimate of jobs with ESI coverage that were lost. We also determine the number of dependents of these workers who potentially lost coverage.

KEY FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION: We estimate that as many as 7.7 million workers lost jobs with ESI as of June 2020 because of the pandemic-induced recession. The ESI of these workers covered 6.9 million of their dependents, for a total of 14.6 million affected individuals. Only with time will we know how many job losses are ultimately permanent, resulting in loss of ESI for workers and their dependents.