COVID-19: Options for Wisconsin workers who lost health insurance

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The Evers Administration said people in Wisconsin who have lost their health insurance during the coronavirus outbreak may be able to enroll in BadgerCare or on HealthCare.gov.

Officials said when someone loses their health insurance, a 60-day special enrollment period is created. During that 60-day window, the person can work with an enrollment assister or an agent to enroll in a new insurance plan through HealthCare.gov, which may be more affordable than using a health insurance extension from their employer under the federal COBRA provision.

Some individuals may also be eligible for free coverage through BadgerCare.

Gov. Tony Evers' administration is urging people to call 2-1-1 or visit CoveringWI.org for assistance.

Since March 15, officials said more than 313,000 initial applications and nearly 600,000 weekly claims for unemployment have been filed in Wisconsin.

"No one should have to worry whether their healthcare is covered by insurance during a pandemic," Evers said. "If you lose your job and your insurance, there is free help available for you. Don't wait. Your health is important, and we all have to do our part to make sure we're keeping ourselves and each other safe."

The federal government has said it does not plan to create an open enrollment period for Americans in response to COVID-19.

Individuals may only be able to enroll in health insurance on the individual market if they've had a change in their current insurance status caused by the loss of a job, a change in benefits provided by an employer, or other circumstances.

When an individual with employer-based health insurance has a change that ends their eligibility for health insurance such as furlough, a reduction in hours, or termination, that individual may be able to extend their existing health insurance coverage for up to 18 months using a federal law called COBRA.

Officials said the COBRA extension can be expensive. Purchasing a health insurance plan on HealthCare.gov may be more affordable.

Wisconsinites whose incomes fall below certain thresholds are eligible to apply for BadgerCare at any time. BadgerCare offers free health insurance to eligible Wisconsinites.

CLICK HERE for an FAQ document.