CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a one-two punch many people in Illinois are struggling with right now.

First no job.

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Then no health insurance.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli is Working for Chicago and has the story.

Edward Johnson is walking with his two and five-year-old outside his northwest side home. And while they may seem happy go lucky, their father is not.

“I can’t provide health insurance to my boys,” Johnson said.

That’s because he was furloughed from his supervisor position in a restaurant at O’Hare due to COVID-19. Then came the second hit when he was told he was also losing his health insurance.

“They gave us COBRA papers and that was $1,200 a month for me and my kids,” Johnson said. “And for a single, I can’t afford it.”

Johnson said his entire unemployment check amounts to about $1,200 a month.

About eight miles to the east, Darien Means means finds himself in a similar predicament. He too got laid off from a restaurant job and can’t afford COBRA. But he thought he’d found a solution with his partner of the past 12 years.

“My idea was to be on his insurance,” Means said.

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But that plan hit a snag because of a mandate requiring that partners be married in order for both to be insured at that Fortune 50 company. Means thought it was discriminatory but the two men decided to to take the next step.

“Then we tried to get married but unfortunately all the Cook County Clerk’s offices are closed,” Means said.

So they applied for a license based on the need for health insurance. And Tuesday morning, after weeks of waiting, they learned they’re scheduled for a virtual meeting with the Cook County Clerk’s Office.

It was a relief, but Means said he’s sick right now and worries about having to wait for close to two more weeks.

“I don’t know what’s going on with my throat. I’m very afraid right now,” Means said.

Experts said people who were laid off due to COVID-19 have 60 days to apply for health insurance through state plans. And if your income is below $1,467 a month for an individual or $3,013 for a family of four, you may qualify for Medicaid.

The Affordable Care Act is also an option you can check out at

We know you may have a lot of questions about where to get the assistance you need during this pandemic. CBS 2 is committed to helping you get back to work and to get answers about your unemployment benefits.

Click here at CBS 2’s Working For Chicago page for more information. 

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