The Investigators: If you’re unemployed, what health insurance options do you have?

Health Insurance Options Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Viewers concerned about losing their health insurance coverage have reached out to The Investigators asking if they will be covered if they’re laid off during the pandemic.

The good news is that you have health insurance choices. Some options will be more expensive than others. Companies with 20 or more employees are required to offer continuing health coverage under COBRA.

The employee can keep their current health insurance for up to 18 months through the program. Expect to pay more, however, because your employer will no longer be paying part of the cost.

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“I’m afraid that health insurance is quite expensive,” said Chuck Hudspeth with Hudspeth Benefits. “In a lot of cases, I find that health insurance premiums are more than a person’s mortgage.”

For companies that have fewer than 20 employees, they’re also required to offer continuing coverage but only up to three months. Again, it will likely cost much more than you’re currently paying.

There could be more affordable options for you and your family through your spouse’s plan or through the federal government, with Medicaid or the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“If your income is limited, the Marketplace would be a good choice because you can get subsidies from the government,” said Hudspeth. “If you have health issues, that could be a good choice as well.”

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You have 60 days from the time your health insurance ends to look at your options.

“That means you have some time. You don’t have to panic or rush out and do something,” Hudsepth told the Investigators. “You can look at your options and make a good choice.”

To reach Chuck Hudspeth, visit

You can apply for Marketplace coverage at or by calling 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855- 889-4325).

You can also apply for Medicaid by contacting your state Medicaid office and learn more about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in your state by calling 1-877- KIDS-NOW (543-7669) or visiting

To elect COBRA, call your health insurance provider.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) also has a link that explains health insurance that is available to you:

TCDI has also requested that healthcare insurance companies in Tennessee provide employers and consumers with as much flexibility as practicable during the period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. TDCI urges carriers to maintain their existing insurance coverage, despite policyholders’ growing concerns about being able to meet deadlines to pay their premiums.

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