By Sheryl Gay Stolberg | July 13, 2020

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic stripped an estimated 5.4 million American workers of their health insurance between February and May, a stretch in which more adults became uninsured because of job losses than have ever lost coverage in a single year, according to a new analysis.

The study, to be announced Tuesday by the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families USA, found that the estimated increase in uninsured workers from February to May was nearly 40 percent higher than the highest previous increase, which occurred during the recession of 2008 and 2009, when 3.9 million adults lost insurance.

“We knew these numbers would be big,” said Stan Dorn, who directs the group’s National Center for Coverage Innovation and wrote the study. “This is the worst economic downturn since World War II. It dwarfs the Great Recession. So it’s not surprising that we would also see the worst increase in the uninsured.”

Families USA is one of a number of groups trying to estimate the number of people who have lost insurance during the pandemic; definitive data will not become available until mid- to late 2021, when the federal government publishes health insurance estimates for 2020. The analyses vary, but all reach the same grim conclusion: More people lack insurance than ever before.

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