LANSING, Mich. — Millions have lost their jobs because of COVID-19 and now as a result their health insurance. Some experts say the consequence of that could be deadly. Chris Conte looks at some possible solutions to help those who are struggling.
As the most visited National Park in the country ... tourism is the backbone of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
But COVID-19 has thrust that industry into darkness.
Brandon McCarter, a catering manager in Gatlinburg shared "March 23rd was my last day."
With conventions canceled and his job gone this 64-year-old also lost his health insurance.
There’s uncertainty in that I’m not sure what I’ll be doing a year from now or even six months from now.
While he's healthy right now not having healthcare means any trip to the doctor, comes out of Brandon's pocket.
Even everyday activities like hiking with his wife come with a new level of concern.
"I was taking a risk and all I need to do is turn my ankle and break my ankle and all of a sudden I have a five thousand dollar hospital bill."
Brandon is not alone.
Roughly half of our countries population relies on their job for healthcare.
But nearly 27 million people of those people have now lost employer-sponsored insurance because they're out of work.
"We have massive numbers of people who are worried about their health but don’t have health insurance."
Michelle Johnson is a health policy advocate.
She says the consequences Americans losing their health coverage could prove deadly.
As folks avoid going to the hospital when they're sick for fear of ending up with medical bills they can't pay.
"When there’s a pandemic it’s important for all of us, we don’t want people to not get care and stop the spread of the virus."
So what might help those without a safety net right now?
Johnson is lobbying for Congress to expand open-enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.
She also says more states need to strongly consider expanding Medicaid coverage.
That would mean Americans stuck in the healthcare gap right now, could get coverage.
For those afraid to see a doctor right now, her advice is to call ahead before you visit and see if you can work out a payment options before a bill arrives.
We know that if people don’t have health insurance they’re afraid to get healthcare
As for Brandon McCarter, he's actively looking for a new job.
If I got a job offer my first question would be, does that include health insurance and if it does how much does that cost?
Even in a place as beautiful as this ... it's nearly impossible to escape the pressures of this pandemic.
I'm Chris Conte reporting.
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