Seeking Benefits in Attack's Aftermath

But even though there are various government programs to help displaced workers, some groups worry that some could fall through the holes in the safety net.

"It's an enormous hit and it's really being felt across the board," says Owens. "The workers at the bottom are the ones who are really, really suffering. We really could have a crisis of enormous dimensions on our hands if we're not responsive to their needs."

Health Insurance a Challenge

One of the biggest problems is health insurance. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, or COBRA, the unemployed can extend their company's health benefits for up to 18 months after their job is terminated. But employees have to pay more for this coverage because their employer is no longer paying a portion of the premium.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a lot of these folks won't be able to continue coverage," says Owens. "We've got to address that problem of how we make it affordable for those people to have access to a plan."

New York state has waived some requirements over the next four months so that applicants can more quickly receive emergency health coverage through the state's Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus programs.

Still, healthcare remains a concern for many Americans. The Census Bureau found that more Americans had health insurance last year than ever before. But with more workers losing their jobs, many experts expect the numbers of uninsured to go back up. Compounding this problem is an increase in health care premiums, which rose by 11 percent last year over the year before.

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