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What help is there for small businesses and the newly unemployed? - The Way Forward

The Association of Washington Businesses work to help small business re-open and the healthcare options available to the newly unemployed. Sponsored by Premera.

SEATTLE — We are all wondering how businesses will manage to recover financially from the COVID-19 crisis.  Some companies have shifted business models, some have been forced to close permanently, and some are preparing to re-open. 

"I think what businesses really want to see is a timeline. They want to be able to plan for when they can reopen," said Michelle Hege, Recovery Task Force Co-Chair for the Association of Washington Business.  Located in Spokane, Hege says business there are eager to re-open and looking for opportunities to start phase two early.  The AWB Task Force is creating a playbook of resources to help small businesses that will include things like outlines for re-opening plans, signage and stickers to help put social distancing in place and help them get re-opened safely and quickly. 

Many businesses are suffering financially and were not able to secure a loan from the Government's Paycheck Protection Program. "There are opportunities for funding," said Hege, "If you're a business owner you should be talking to your local Chamber of Commerce or go to the Association of Washington Business website to look at resources."  People who are self-employed or gig-workers have options as well, "Those folks should be going to the Employment Security website, there is unemployment available for many more people than is typical during this time, and they should absolutely be seeking those resources." 

Hege remains optimistic for the future of business in Washington State, despite being in unprecedented times, "I think the thing that makes me hopeful as I look around is that we have a state of entrepreneurs of innovators and of smart, creative people. And I think like all challenges, we will see people rise to this and find a path through it to keep each other healthy and keep our businesses open."

Healthcare options for the newly unemployed

In the United States employment and health insurance often go hand in hand.  With unemployment reaching near Great Depression levels, many are wondering how they will pay for Healthcare.  Kristin Meadows,  Director, Individual Market for Premera says that if your income has changed, you should visit the Washington Health Plan Finder, as you may qualify for health coverage on the individual market, "And if they do, they may even have access to a premium credit or discount that will help them cover the cost of their monthly coverage."  Free resources are available for people looking into their coverage options at lifewise.com

And even though markets seem tumultuous, health care premiums are set for the year, "The premiums that we filed for 2020 across the state were set about a year ago. And so those won't go up. What they can see right now is what they can count on for the rest of the year."

Meadows is optimistic about the way we are headed, "I think we're fortunate to live in a state where people that make those decisions are working together right now," says Meadows, "Everyone should have access to the testing and vaccinations when they become available, so I'm confident we'll make the right decision so there's no burden when it comes to cost."

This segment is part of the virtual town hall The Way Forward hosted by KING 5 and Premera Blue Cross. We asked viewers to share with us their biggest questions and concerns about life post-pandemic and gathered regional experts to provide the answers. All segments are available at king5.com/thewayforward.  Sponsored by Premera Blue Cross

RELATED: Get answers to your biggest questions about life after COVID-19: Watch "The Way Forward"