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Do you need help because of COVID-19? The recent national emergency continues to uproot lives of Wisconsinites in many ways folks never expected.

Have you been impacted? Use this page if you:  

  • • Just lost a job or had your work hours reduced
    • Lost job-based insurance coverage when you lost work
    • Can no longer afford your ACA Marketplace Plan
    • Have questions about COVID-19 testing, treatment, or services
    • Have questions about FREE COVID-19 Vaccines
    • Need help connecting to internet, food, or heat
    • Have medical debt, unpaid bills, or are being contacted by a collection agency

You are not alone!

We are here to help. HealthWatch Wisconsin is committed to keeping you, families, & health professionals across the state connected to timely information, advocacy strategies, and available resources. Below, we address common questions about health coverage, care, and community resources during this COVID-19 national emergency, with sections that help identify options if you:

Have you gotten your shot? The COVID-19 vaccine is widely available across the United States. Some vaccines are available for kids as young as 12 years old. Vaccines are just another way to protect yourself and loved ones. And remember, vaccines are entirely free.

On September 27, Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services announced who in the State is eligible for a COVID booster shot. The State says that those who are at highest risk for COVID-19 and have already received their two-dose series of the Pfizer vaccine are recommended to get a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine to help increase their protection against COVID-19. We review the list of eligible populations, those who are encouraged to consider a booster shot, give an update on Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and where to find a vaccine near you.

On October 7, Pfizer asked the FDA to allow use of its COVID vaccine in children ages 5 - 11. Remember, Pfizer COVID vaccines are widely available for adults over the age of 16 with full FDA approval. The Pfizer vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization including for children ages 12 - 15. We talk about the impact of FDA approval, the timeline for review, and how to find a vaccine near you.


 

If you lost your job and with it your job-based health insurance coverage, you may be eligible for either BadgerCare Plus or a Special Enrollment Period in the ACA Marketplace to purchase a private health insurance plan. Maybe your income has dropped significantly and you can no longer afford your private health insurance plan. First, consider your options in applying for BadgerCare Plus.

BadgerCare Plus

BadgerCare Plus is the name of Wisconsin's state Medicaid program. The program can help individuals, parents, children, and pregnant women get free or low cost health care services and treatment they need to stay healthy. The program has income eligibility rules based on the Federal Poverty Level. Use our free FPL Calculator to inform you of your options. Learn more about the basics of BadgerCare Plus in our 3 Steps to Healthcare Coverage: How to Get, Use, & Keep BadgerCare Plus Guidebook.

ACA Marketplace Coverage

Loss of employment and therefore job-based health insurance is an unsettling time. But it does open up the opportunity to purchase health insurance coverage. If you lost your health coverage (or if you expect you will lose your health coverage soon) you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period--an opportunity for you to apply and enroll in a health insurance plan through the Marketplace. You have 60 days from the qualifying event – the loss of coverage – to get your application into the Marketplace. You may qualify for help to make your coverage affordable when you apply, with tax subsidies or cost sharing reductions. 

Learn more about the basics of the ACA Marketplace in our “Consumers Companion” Guidebook or the State of Wisconsin’s GetCovered.Wi.Gov Toolkit


Suspended Medicaid Rules

A number of changes to Wisconsin's Medicaid programs have been made during the course of the public health emergency. The following program changes are currently in effect:

  • • No cutting people off Medicaid unless they specifically request it
  • • No treatment needs question for BadgerCare Plus
  • • No premiums for children, childless adults, or the MAPP program
  • • No work activity is required in MAPP
  • • No co-pays in BadgerCare Plus or Medicaid

Learn more about temporary Medicaid changes, and suspended changes for childless adults.

The rules and policies around health coverage and community programs is changing very rapidly. There is a lot of information to review and understand to see how it impacts you or your patients. HealthWatch Wisconsin is committed to staying current with federal, state, and local health policy and coverage conversations and makes that information available to you free of charge in our growing video playlist.

Current Events

HealthWatch Wisconsin's COVID-19 video playlist grows every week! Use our playlist to stay current on new developments, changes to program rules & features, and resources available to you, your family, and clients. Subscribe to be the first to know when new videos are published.

Enhanced FoodShare & Child Tax Credit

Families are still receiving maximum FoodShare benefits (called "Emergency Allotments.") These changes may be extended with federal approval. Work requirements for FoodShare were suspended until September.

The IRS and Treasury announced that millions of American families are now receiving their advance Child Tax Credit Payments, this time, for the Month of October. This is the 4th batch of advance monthly payments totaling about $15 billion, reaching about 36 million families. We talk about who got checks in October, and what checks are expected in the future. Watch our full video for more information.

Internet Resources

Being connected to the internet is more important than ever. More people are working remotely, more students are learning online, and more individuals are getting their news and information from websites.

If you or your family has lost income, you may qualify for additional help with your internet bill. The Lifeline program offers help to make it easier to stay connected in tough times. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is also still available!


Visit our resources page to learn more about the telecommunication assistance available to help offset the cost of  internet services.

I Have Debt & I'm Being Harrassed

Debtors are prohibited from certain debt collection practices which can be considered harassing during this public health emergency. You can watch our full video. If you're saddled with debt, you don't have to wait to take back control. Fight forward with our new online guidebook "Fighting Forward: Challenging Medical Debt" available here.

State Resources

Wisconsin Department of Health Services is maintain two websites to keep individuals in our state informed on COVID-19 and a separate website with announcements specific to Medicaid participants. The updates cover changes to Medicaid, BadgerCare Plus, FoodShare and more--in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Quick Access Toolkit

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HealthWatch Wisconsin, Inc, a subsidiary of ABC for Health, promotes improved access to health care coverage and services. HealthWatch will continue to track and inform policy developments in a changing landscape of public and private insurance coverage options for the people of Wisconsin.

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