Just in Time for the Second Wave of Coronavirus, No One in America Has Any Health Insurance

Illustration for article titled Just in Time for the Second Wave of Coronavirus, No One in America Has Any Health Insurance
Image: Tim Boyle (Getty Images)
Barf BagWelcome to Barf Bag, a daily politics roundup to help you sort through the chaotic Trumpian news cycle.

The country’s system of arbitrarily leaving access to medicine up to the discretion of employers has never been a particularly convincing argument for American excellence. But in a pandemic creating one of the biggest employment crises in the nation’s history, the divide between Americans with access to life-saving medical attention and those without has become even more glaringly obvious than before.

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Recent estimates put the number of Americans who lost health insurance between February and May at 5.4 million, but those numbers could just be the beginning, as a full picture of the data won’t be available until 2021. However, more in-depth studies already paint a picture that seems incredibly grim:

“The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that 27 million Americans have lost coverage in the pandemic; that study took into account family members of the insured. Another analysis, published Monday by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, projected that by the end of 2020, 10.1 million people will no longer have employer-sponsored health insurance or coverage that was tied to a job they lost because of the pandemic.”

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But according to the Kaiser Foundation, four out of five of those newly uninsured Americans qualify for coverage through expanded Medicare programsthough with the election looming, it’s impossible to say for how long. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has done about as much to address the health insurance crisis as it has to stop the spread of covid-19, meaning it has done very very little. In fact, one might say the administration taken steps to make things worse:

“The Trump administration has imposed sharp cuts on the funding for outreach programs that assist people in signing up for coverage under the health law. And while House Democrats have passed legislation intended to help people to keep their health insurance, the bill is stuck in the Republican-controlled Senate.”

Not to present too wild a conspiracy theory around these facts, data, and observable actions, but government response to this pandemic almost seems like a deliberate lack of effort by a bunch of leaders who don’t care if their constituents die. [New York Times]


Contrary to police assertions that “non-lethal” projectiles fired into crowds during the May 30 George Floyd protests across the country are harmless, eight people were partially blinded in a single day due to the use of such weapons. The projectiles used by police, which blinded six peaceful protesters, one photojournalist, and one person just minding their own business, were made of lead pellets encased in cloth pouches and fired from shotguns: In other words, bullets. [Washington Post]

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  • The White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications seems to believe someone called “Dr. Faucet” is releasing an unholy flood of safety upon the uninsured, at-risk patriots of this once-great nation when everyone knows the most patriotic thing we could all do right now is go to Applebee’s and die. [Twitter]
  • In addition to having no health insurance, many Americans’ unemployment benefits are about to expire. [Washinton Post]
  • Over the protests of the victims’ families, on Tuesday the federal government executed a man convicted of carrying out a white supremacist plot by murdering a family when they could have instead just left him uninsured and penniless in a pandemic like the rest of America. [HuffPost]
  • The former Tucker Carlson staffer who posted a bunch of racist and sexist stuff is going to take the trout-fishing vacation he had planned long before anyone even knew what a shitbag he was, said Carlson, with a tear in his eye, as he wistfully dreamed back own trout-fishing-till-the-heat-is-off holidays. [CNN]
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DISCUSSION

I’ve been trying to get a COVID test for the past few days and I had no idea how difficult it still was.

First, I couldn’t get a test through my health care provider because I don’t have any symptoms. Apparently prolonged contact with someone who tested positive doesn’t cut it... which is why we’re never going to get the virus under control here. Asymptomatic carriers are just as-if not more- dangerous as the symptomatic ones and not testing those people is only going to help the virus spread and put further strain on our healthcare system.

I can’t go back to work until I get a negative result and I only have a week of sick leave, so I moved on to plan two— a community testing site that was testing asymptomatic people.

I got to the testing site a few minutes early and was horrified to see that it wasn’t a drive-through testing site, but an indoor one with an outside line. The heat index was 113. 113!!! They had sick children and elderly people waiting in “DANGER”-level heat advisory conditions for hours to get a medical test. When I got to the end of the line, the guy told me all of the testing spots had been taken for an hour and that I would have to come at least an hour and a half early to ensure one the next day.

In the end, I told a CVS minute clinic forty minutes from my house (because all of the nearby ones were solidly booked) that I have a sore throat (which I do, I’ve just had it for a week longer than I’ve been exposed to the virus) and am getting a test tomorrow morning.

I fully expect to have to go back into full lockdown mode soon. There’s no way cases are going down anytime soon.

I was exposed through an outbreak at work—a med school that has been doing such a poor job of taking care of its workers that it’s been pretty demoralizing. Like, so bad that they didn’t even tell us when two entire floors in the building I work in were shut down because of cases on them. Like, thanks guys, I only ride elevators with you all DAILY. WTF.

I also only found out I’d been exposed because, while the person and I had contact because of my duties at work, I somewhat know them socially too and a mutual contact told me they’d tested positive. If they hadn’t, I never would have found out. The med school I work in can’t bother to contact trace within its own buildings.

Sorry for the rant, but I need another country to adopt me ASAP. The US is too messed up.