New Report Shows that Only 1 Out of 7 Unemployed Hispanic Workers

Washington, D.C. – A new report shows that millions of workers who lost their jobs are losing their health insurance coverage. According to the report, only one out of seven (15.9%) unemployed Hispanic workers, now with low or moderate incomes, have private or military health coverage.

The report, by the health consumer organization Families USA, was issued shortly after the government approved an economic recovery package that includes health coverage relief for laid-off workers.

The new report focuses on middle-class and lower-income workers with annual incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($44,100 in annual income for a family of four). These workers represent half of unemployed workers under 65 years of age and are the most vulnerable economically and at the highest risk of being uninsured.

“Unfortunately, losing a job often means losing health coverage,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA.

Nearly one out of three (30.0%) unemployed Hispanic workers with incomes below 200 percent of poverty receive health coverage through public safety-net programs such as Medicaid. As a result, more than half (54.2%) of unemployed Hispanic workers with incomes below 200 percent of poverty are uninsured.

Many laid-off workers are ineligible for COBRA—the right to continue their employer-based insurance coverage if they pay the entire premium out of their own pocket—either because their previous employer has gone out of business or has fewer than 20 employees. And for those workers who do have a COBRA option, the premium is often unaffordable. Recognizing the gap in both availability and affordability of COBRA for moderate-and low-income families, the economic recovery package establishes provides a 9-month subsidy for laid-off workers that pays for 65 percent of COBRA premiums.

“Most laid-off workers can’t afford COBRA coverage and do not qualify for public health safety-net programs – and, as a result, millions of middle-class and lower-income workers become uninsured,” said Pollack.

Unfortunately, the economic recovery package failed to provide a temporary Medicaid eligibility for laid-off workers and families relying on unemployment benefits with incomes below 200 percent of poverty.

The data for the Families USA report were compiled by the Lewin Group, a well-respected health analysis organization, based on U.S. Department of Labor and Census Bureau sources.

The new Families USA report is available at http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/getting-covered.pdf

At the same time that Families USA released its report about the health insurance status of laid-off workers with incomes below 200 percent of poverty, it also released a consumer guide for laid-off workers to help them retain health care coverage. The guide is designed to provide advice to newly laid-off workers so that they can better understand the potential opportunities and obstacles for retaining health care coverage.

The consumer guide is available at http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/unemployed-and-uninsured.pdf

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