The pandemic crisis job losses are especially hard on younger women and women of color.
The immediate economic harm from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is clearer to see than issues such as shrinking access to reproductive health care coverage.
Young women and women of color are being hit hardest by job losses and therefore coverage loss.
Health plans are linked to employment for approximately half of Americans. This means that any of those 160 million people who lose their jobs also risk losing their health plans and, therefore, their reproductive health care coverage.
As job losses continue rising, a growing number of Americans are finding themselves uninsured. Many of these millions of people will be looking to publicly supported forms of health insurance such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, and government subsidized plans sold through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges.
This shift in the source of coverage can leave gaps in areas such as reproductive health care insurance.
According to the results of a recent Guttmacher Institute analysis, millions of people will suddenly find themselves uninsured or seeking new providers and programs that support that type of care. They pointed out that as publicly supported programs are asked to serve a rising number of people, they will also suffer broader logistical and financial pressures. These pressures will be piled onto the struggles that have already been building for years as family planning programs and clinics have weakened in the face of reproductive rights opponent political attacks.
The problems will be felt most acutely by the groups most at risk of job loss. Across the United States, young women and women of color are among those most affected. The National Women’s Law Center estimates that 56 percent of total job losses since March have been from women. This is believed to be because women are overrepresented in the types of employment most affected by lockdowns and stay at home orders, such as in restaurants, retail, and part-time, low-paid and tip-supported jobs.
As 13.9 percent of women were unemployed in May 2020 (compared to 11.6 percent of men), and as 16.5 percent of Black women, 19 percent of Latina women, 20.3 percent of women with disabilities and 24.0 percent of women aged 20 to 24 years were unemployed in that same month, these individuals also face losing their health plans and therefore their reproductive health care coverage.