Millions of Californians lost jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. But early information from California’s insurance regulators suggests that — at least through June — the number of Californians with job-based health insurance has not changed as dramatically as feared. This may partially help explain why the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, has not yet experienced a big surge in enrollment.
Specifically, employment levels in June were 13.9% below pre-pandemic levels, with 2.6 million Californians having lost their jobs.1 But, contrary to worst-case scenarios, our analysis showed that enrollment in employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) was down only 1.0%, about 190,000 enrollees, as of June 30. Many projections earlier this year suggested we might see close to two to three million Californians losing employer-sponsored insurance by this time.2