Health Insurance Open Enrollment – What You Need to Know
The open enrollment period is right around the corner for the health insurance world. Although it seems a bit messy, there are many rules still in place and consistencies that we as insurance agents can rely on to help our clients stay well informed.
Open enrollment is a period of time established between November 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018 when individuals who are currently enrolled in a health plan can either renew into the plan they are already enrolled in, or, take a look at other options and change their plan. If you are enrolled in a plan through Anthem Blue Cross, you will need to change your plan as they are no longer going to be offering individual plans across most of California, mostly Southern California, beginning January 1, 2018 (this post will later discuss the actions you need to take if that is the case). This is also the time when individuals who are not currently enrolled in any health insurance can enroll in a plan – This timeline applies to those who are enrolled in health plans directly with insurance carriers and through Covered California as well.
So what do you need to do?
Keep in mind that open enrollment begins November 1, 2017 and as long as you take action and change or renew your plan by December 15, 2017, you will have coverage under your new plan beginning on January 1, 2018. If you do nothing by December 15th, you will still have time to enroll in a new plan, but you won’t be covered until February 1, 2018. Any enrollment submitted between December 16, 2017 – January 15, 2018 will have effective dates of February 1, 2018. If you miss that deadline, the option to enroll will still be available until the end of January. Any application to enroll in a new plan that is submitted between January 16, 2018 and January 31, 2018 will have an effective date of coverage beginning March 1, 2018. Once January 31, 2018 passes, no one is eligible to enroll or change their plans unless they experience a “qualifying event” (i.e. marriage, if you have a baby, change residence areas, lose insurance through employer, etc.).
We highly encourage those who are seeking new health plan options to begin looking sooner rather than later because those deadlines approach rather quickly. As agents, we want to make sure our clients have enough time to review plans and make a well informed decision so it is important for those seeking new plans to ask for quotes of other health plan options as soon as possible. Keep in mind if you are interested in changing plans, you may want to keep the doctors you have so during the open enrollment period, it would also be important for you to reach out to your doctors’ offices and ask them if they accept certain plans.
In regards to those who are enrolled in plans through Anthem Blue Cross, you are covered until the end of the year with your last date of coverage being December 31, 2017. If you enrolled directly through Anthem and did not enroll through Covered California, you will not be automatically renewed into a new plan with another insurance carrier and will need to find a new plan to enroll in. The applications to enroll in a new plan will need to be submitted by December 15, 2017 in order to be covered on January 1, 2018.
If you enrolled in an Anthem plan through Covered California and do not take any action, you will be “passively renewed” into a new plan that is the lowest costing plan of the tier you are on.
What does this mean?
If you are enrolled in an Anthem Blue Cross Silver plan through Covered California and do not take any action during open enrollment, your plan will renew into the lowest costing Silver plan with whichever insurance carrier that is, depending on your income level and zip code. It may be a plan with Health Net, Kaiser, L.A. Care, or any of the other insurance carriers offering coverage through Covered California. If you are enrolled in an Anthem Blue Cross Gold plan, your plan will be “passively renewed” into the lowest costing Gold plan, etc.
Although the next few months can get a little chaotic with the changes in plans and costs of health insurance, we aim to make the open enrollment period a seamless experience for the individuals we serve by staying well informed of policies and changes made specifically among particular health carriers. We encourage applicants to submit their changes/enrollments well before the deadlines because of how much more impacted insurance carriers are with processing applications during this time of year.