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Coronavirus job losses likely cost 3.5 million people their health insurance too

This week's job report saw an additional 6.6 million people file initial unemployment claims amid the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to the previous week's then-record-breaking 3.3 million to leave nearly 10 million people newly unemployed. And with around 156 million Americans getting their coverage through job-based insurance, that leaves an estimated 3.5 million without insurance after the two-week COVID-19 unemployment surge, a report from the Economic Policy Institute reveals.

"Most nonelderly people in the United States who have health insurance get it through their own employer" or through a family member's employer-sponsored plan, the EPI writes. So a lot of those newly unemployed people, along with their families, likely lost their insurance — an especially dire consequence given that we're in a global pandemic.

To come up with its estimate, the EPI looked at unemployment numbers by industry from the state of Washington, where the new coronavirus first appeared in the U.S. The EPI does note "we can't say exactly how many people will lose insurance coverage altogether." Some layoffs and furloughs maintain workers' health insurance, others might continue coverage through COBRA (though it's expensive), and still others may hop on insurance plans with other family members, the EPI notes.

People who lost their health insurance along with their jobs also qualify for a special enrollment period through the federal government's insurance marketplace, which lasts 60 days from the time they lost their jobs. Find resources for enrolling in the marketplace here.