MILWAUKEE — TMJ4 News interviewed a woman named Joni. She wanted to maintain some privacy and didn't want to give her last name. She told us when she lost her job during COVID-19, she had no idea signing up for health insurance would be so challenging.
Joni said she was laid off in March and her employer's health insurance benefits went away.
"I'm diabetic, so the ability to just go to the doctor and have my A1C checked and you know for medication purposes that's pretty much been on hold," said Joni.
As a single person with no income right now, she said the more than $600 COBRA option wasn't affordable and she realized the government-regulated insurance plans on healthcare.gov were also too expensive.
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"When people have no income and they've been without any money whatsoever, the last thing that they're going to want to pay for is healthcare," Joni continued.
Sadie Tuescher with Wisconsin Health Insurance Advocate LLC hears cases like Joni's often. Lately, she's seen an unexpected increase in the number of people losing their work coverage who can't afford to get insurance through the marketplace.
She explains some are above the income limit for the tax credit the government offers, which lower your monthly insurance payment.
"Part of it is they are continuing to get unemployment which is a very high benefit amount and puts them over," said Tuescher.
You don't qualify for it if you're single without kids and you make more than $49,960 a year. Or for two people in a household, if you make more than $67,640.
"These higher-income people are not the WI average by any means, but they are experiencing insurance loss and job loss that is unusual," she explained.
"And for people for whom the marketplace and COBRA is unaffordable those people tend to be going into the short term plans to get themselves some sort of coverage," Tuescher said.
A potential option for people without income waiting for unemployment pay is Badgercare. That's what Joni enrolled in. It's public healthcare for low-income Wisconsin residents. Joni knew while she applies to new jobs, with a medical condition, having coverage was important.
"I bet there is a lot of people who are in need of medical attention, that aren't getting medical attention because they can't afford to pay for that," she said.
Here are some helpful links if you're looking at getting health insurance coverage.
Healthcare.gov is the official government site that compares on-market only plans.
You can compare insurance plans by visiting Tuescher's website, www.wihia.com. Enrollment services are free to the customer.
To view short term plans, click here.
For full coverage plans on or off the market, click here.