Affordable health insurance options are limited
The effects of this disparity will be compounded because of the lack of affordable alternatives for many minority groups. Unemployed and low-income individuals can turn to Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income individuals. But, Sloan says, the very states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — including Florida, Texas and other southern states — are places with large numbers of Black and Hispanic residents.
In addition, while people who lose their insurance because of being laid off from their job can immediately go to the ACA for coverage — and likely be eligible for federal subsidies to help pay the premiums — Sloan points out that often the unemployed cannot afford any premiums or the deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs that they would need to pay for health care.
The extra $600 that many of the unemployed received earlier this year may have helped them afford health insurance, Sloan says, but with that having expired, their ability to afford health insurance has decreased.
Even those who are able to get new health insurance, whether Medicaid or through the individual market, may find they have less access to care, the Avalere analysis finds. Most plans in the individual market, the study says, have narrower networks than are available through job-based insurance. And, only 71 percent of doctors accept new Medicaid patients, “presenting further access barriers to patients shifting into Medicaid enrollment,” the study says. “These challenges may prevent continuity of care for some patients, further increasing the negative impact of the pandemic.”