COVID-19 | Medical Debt | Birth Cost Recovery |  BadgerCare Plus |  Lifeline |  Open Enrollment ACA Impact Series |  HealthCheck

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

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:

Did you lose your job? Are you furloughed? Were your hours cut? You may qualify for help, in unemployment insurance benefits or some new health insurance coverage options.

On March 18, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order on unemployment insurance benefits for people dislocated by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development has a page where you can apply for unemployment benefits and where employers and claimants can get their questions answered.

See also the Journal Sentinel’s step by step guide to applying for unemployment.

How Does Unemployment Affect My Healthcare Coverage?

You started to receive unemployment! Now what? Consider how your new unemployment benefit may impact your eligibility for different health coverage. And, the impact on Medicaid or private insurance may be different! We explain in this video.

Go to the next section to identify programs you may be eligible for.


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 & New Benefit for Kids

Families should receive the maximum FoodShare disbursement for March & April. This change may be extended with federal approval. Work requirements for FoodShare were suspended until September. Some FoodShare interviews were suspended as well. Watch our full video for details.

A new food benefit is available for eligible kids in Wisconsin. This new benefit is called Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT). Now families with kids who were eligible for free or reduced school meals get a new monthly benefit, either added to their QUEST card or issued on a new P-EBT Card. 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. Some internet service providers have made it easier for people in Wisconsin to use the internet. Watch our videos on expanded internet resources, and visit the PSC Internet Resources Page.

Internet & Phones

If you or your family has lost income, you may qualify for additional help with your cell phone or combined phone/internet bundle. The Lifeline program offers help to make it easier to stay connected in tough times. Watch our video on the Lifeline program.

Visit our resources page to learn more about the telecommunication assistance available to help offset the cost of phone & internet services, and equipment that makes using these services more accessible for people with disabilities.

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

abc logo

HealthWatch Wisconsin, Inc. | 608.261.6939 | 32 N. Bassett St. Madison, WI

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.

Stay Connected!

Facebook   Twitter   YouTube