As the global virus outbreak is forcing companies to lay off workers, in America that means millions will lose their health insurance at moment of need.
In the past two weeks the reality of the covid-19 pandemic has hit the country. States and cities have been weighing public health measures, making changes to government health plans, and pushing sweeping changes to everyday life.
Roughly half of Americans get their health insurance from their employer, but as the pandemic has forced people to stay home and businesses to lay off workers, these layoffs mean not only losing their income but also their medical coverage.
Some analysts suggest that a million or more US workers will lose their jobs in April alone.
Health insurers argued that they are responding to the best of their ability. A Humana spokesperson told The Guardian that the company is not charging patients for covid-19 testing. Aetna has also waived costs related to the infection for many plan members. Another representative from the Association of Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) noted that various members of the association have pledged their commitment to fighting the coronavirus.
But despite these affirmations, some private health insurers continue to charge patients for other coronavirus-related expenses. AHIP said that out-of-pocket expenses for the treatment will not be waived
According to one recent report, the cost of treatment for covid-19 can run around $35,000.
The number of uninsured non-elderly people in the US rose to 27.9 million in 2018 under President Donald Trump - an increase of half a million from the previous year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
Most uninsured people in the US are working poor - meaning they are from in low-income households that have at least one person working. People of colour are at higher risk of being uninsured than non-Hispanic whites, KFF notes.