Options for Hoosiers suddenly unemployed and uninsured amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Thousands of workers across the state are without a paycheck as all non-essential businesses close their doors. In his address on Monday, Gov. Holcomb revealed that last week over 54,000 Hoosiers filed for unemployment.

It's the first step many should take if they suddenly find themselves without income.

“The first thing you really should do after you apply for unemployment coverage is see how much money you can get together," said Peter Dunn, known as "Pete the Planner." "What's in your bank account, maybe what’s in retirement accounts, and how much you can borrow from your credit card and equity line?"

Suspending evictions and utility shutoffs helps unemployed Hoosiers avoid losing their home, but in the middle of a health crisis those who had employer-sponsored healthcare may also lose their coverage.

“Of all the terrible things about this situation, that’s one of my least favorite realities is that they do have to go through COBRA," Dunn said. "While COBRA is excellent coverage, it’s very very expensive.”

COBRA allows those who lost coverage to stay on their current plan but at a high cost. Justin Cements with Remodel Health says there are other options.

“If you lose your job, your income goes down, you have what's called a qualifying event, and in some cases you can get an alternative plan through exchanges or private insurance,” Clements said.

For those already on private insurance, Cements says there are ways to save money if your projected income has changed.

“If you buy insurance on your own, there are options to either shop and see if there's better options all together, or potentially to lower your current monthly cost by changing your modified gross income estimate,” Clements said.

Since healthcare isn’t one size fits all, the best choice is different for everyone. Whether that's COBRA or a marketplace like healthcare.gov. Clements says you should contact an agent to make the right decision. He has a website, agentsforhope.com.

“Don't freak out, don't be worried, just get educated," Clements said. "Look at resources, there's lots of free resources, there's people out there who can help.”

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