COVID-19

For America’s uninsured, COVID-19 will present extra challenges

Jasmine Garsd Mar 4, 2020
HTML EMBED:
COPY
A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus on Feb. 28, 2020 in Nutley, N.J. Kena Betancur/Getty Images
COVID-19

For America’s uninsured, COVID-19 will present extra challenges

Jasmine Garsd Mar 4, 2020
A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus on Feb. 28, 2020 in Nutley, N.J. Kena Betancur/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

There are nearly 30 million Americans without health insurance. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Trump administration is considering using a national disaster program to help them pay for COVID-19 treatment.

The CDC doesn’t charge for its coronavirus tests, but getting that test requires a doctor’s visit or maybe an emergency room stay. Without insurance, the bill could be thousands of dollars.

“For people who are uninsured, knowing that they may face thousands of dollars worth of medical costs can be a deterrent to getting care,” said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

And if people who have symptoms avoid getting tests because it’s too expensive, experts say that could make it harder to contain the disease — especially because of who tends to be uninsured. Sabrina Corlette, the co-director of Georgetown’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, said that tends to be people who take care of children and the elderly, clean hotels and serve food.

And those are exactly the people that Corlette says should be a priority for testing.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.