Coronavirus impact: Millions have lost jobs and health insurance; Here's how to regain coverage in California

As unemployment is skyrocketing, so is the number of Americans losing their job-based health insurance.

During the pandemic, health coverage is perhaps more important than ever. It's another one of our focuses as we tell stories to build a better Bay Area.

Between March 1st and May 2nd of this year, nearly 78 million people in the U.S. lived in a family in which someone lost a job.

RELATED: 1 million Californians could lose healthcare in midst of COVID-19 pandemic

A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows that 61% of those people rely on employer-sponsored insurance.

Napa resident, Rebecca Narvaez, spoke to ABC7 News by phone Wednesday night.

"No coverage at all, I'm extremely stressed out. I really want to get my asthma inhalers as soon as possible."

Narvaez lost her job as a server, along with her health insurance, in March because of the shelter-in-place orders which forced the restaurant she worked at to close.

"I have a five-year-old and he doesn't have any medical now either... and that's a really scary situation."

An estimated 27 million newly unemployed workers and their dependents could lose health insurance, if they don't sign up for other coverage.

RELATED: More than 22 million Californians eligible for free medically necessary COVID-19 screenings

According to the KFF study, nearly half of unemployed workers are eligible for Medicaid. Another 31% qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies.

The study does indicate that 21% of unemployed workers are ineligible for subsidized care.

"We have a special enrollment period because of the COVID pandemic," said Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California

"2.5 times as many people have signed up compared to last year. We're talking every day we're getting thousands of Californians coming and getting insurance right away."

Lee says Covered California can enroll people in private plans and Medi-Cal.

"Now's not the time to roll the dice and decide to go without insurance," said Lee.

RELATED: Federal government will pay for COVID-19 treatment for uninsured, HHS secretary says

The KFF study, shows states like Texas, Georgia, and Florida, that did not expand Medicaid, will have major gaps in coverage.

California expanded subsidies to help more middle class families.

"We don't have gaps in California," explained Lee.

Kate Larsen: "Are you saying that any person in California who lost their job and therefore their private insurance can find some sort of coverage through covered California?"

Peter Lee: "Absolutely. With one exception, if you're an undocumented immigrant, you may not be eligible for financial support."

Narvaez called Covered California Wednesday and was able to sign up for Medi-Cal. Her coverage begins June 1st.

Enrollment is open now through Covered California's website and their phone lines.

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