News Release

Updated: 13.5 Million Likely to Become Uninsured by June 30


Earlier this week, a new study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine: “Intersecting U.S. Epidemics: COVID-19 and Lack of Health Insurance.”

Various media reported on the study, see Newsweek: “Over 7 Million Americans to Lose Health Insurance During Coronavirus Pandemic, 1.5 Million Have Already Lost Coverage, New Study Predicts.”

However, new unemployment data was released since the research was published which nearly doubles the numbers. Using the latest available unemployment figures, and including a new estimate of dependents who become uninsured when a breadwinner loses a job, the researchers now estimate that nearly 5 million have lost their insurance the last three weeks alone — and a total of 13.5 million people are projected to join the ranks of the uninsured by June 30.

STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, M.D., M.P.H, steffie_woolhandler at
DAVID U. HIMMELSTEIN, M.D., dhimmels at
Clare Fauke, Physicians for a National Health Program, clare at

The research was carried out by Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David U. Himmelstein. Both authors are internal medicine specialists who serve as distinguished professors at Hunter College and Lecturers at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Woolhandler commented: “Our health financing system is in tatters, as our nation faces the biggest health crisis in a century. Millions are losing coverage each week and hospitals are struggling to make payroll. States can’t fill the gaps because tax revenues are plummeting and they, unlike the federal government, are required to balance their budgets each year. In this emergency, Washington must step in to protect beleaguered families by expanding Medicare to cover all of the uninsured.”

The researchers found: “4,805,894 American workers and their dependents have lost health insurance coverage in the past three weeks … The researchers also estimate that a total of 13.475 million will join the ranks of the uninsured by June 30, raising the number of uninsured Americans to about 43 million.

“The new figures include coverage losses among newly-unemployed workers as well as their dependents covered under job-based family policies. The figures update previous estimates that the same researchers published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine on April 7, 2020. Those previous estimates only included workers themselves who were laid off during the last two weeks of March, and did not include dependents losing family coverage because of layoffs, or the most recent week of data.

“The new estimates analyzed U.S. Labor Department data on the number of new unemployment claims in each state, and differences in the likelihood of being uninsured among workers with jobs (and their dependents) and those who have lost jobs (and their dependents).

“Based on an analysis of Census Bureau surveys of health insurance coverage, the researchers estimated that 15.6 percent of laid-off workers become newly uninsured, and that for every 100 workers who lose coverage, about 83.7 dependents also lose insurance. They applied those estimates to the Labor Department’s figures (released on April 9) indicating that 16.780 million people filed new unemployment claims in the past three weeks. The June 30 coverage loss estimate was based on a Federal Reserve economist’s projection that 47.05 million workers will lose jobs by the end of June. The researchers noted that their figures do not include coverage losses among self-employed persons or other job losers who did not file unemployment claims, or their dependents.”