DETROIT, Feb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- With less than two weeks left to enroll in health coverage and avoid a $325 or 2% of household income penalty in 2015, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is extending its hours the final weekend of enrollment to help consumers get covered. Starting Friday, Feb. 13, Blue Cross Health Plan Advisors will be available to enroll consumers directly beginning at 8 a.m., and will remain available until 12 midnight each day, ending at midnight on Feb. 15 when the open enrollment period ends.
"In the days leading into the end of the enrollment period last year, phone calls spiked tremendously, with more than 30,000 calls coming in on March 31, 2014, the last day of enrollment," said Rick Notter, director for individual business at Blue Cross. "We've experienced level, robust volumes throughout the 2015 period, but expect many have waited until now to enroll. We're here and prepared to stay on the phone as long as it takes to help consumers enroll in the right plan."
Over the course of the two and a half month enrollment period, consumer phone calls lasted an average of 16 minutes and questions largely centered on rate changes and understanding differences in metal levels and benefits. The Health Insurance Marketplace will close on Feb. 15, and consumers will have to wait until fall 2015 to enroll in 2016 coverage, effective Jan. 1 of that year, unless there is a qualifying event. Here are the top five things consumers should know:
- Gather the proper information before calling or shopping online: Consumers seeking coverage should gather the following information before shopping online or calling a health plan advisor to enroll:
- Number of dependants
- Social security numbers (or document number for legal immigrants)
- Employer and income information
- Current health plan and policy numbers
- It's important to review plan details: Michigan has a very competitive Marketplace with a number of insurers offering plans to choose from. Consumers should know what benefits the plan offers and whether their doctor and hospital are within the plan's network. They should also understand what their plan will pay for versus what they will be responsible for, including their deductible and co-pays.
- Automatic re-enrollment might not be the best option: If consumers did nothing by Dec. 31, they were automatically re-enrolled in the same or similar plan in 2015. These consumers have until Feb. 15 to review their options and, if they choose, switch plans. This is particularly important if they qualify for financial assistance. Even if a consumer's household income stayed the same, they might qualify for more savings, or could end up owing money if they don't report changes.
- Don't wait until the last minute: Just like Christmas shopping, the longer you wait to shop for health insurance, the longer you'll likely wait in line. Last year there were extremely high call volumes during the last two weeks of open enrollment. To avoid getting stuck in the rush, consumers need to call soon, and be ready with the right information to enroll.
- It pays to get help (especially when it's free!): Blue Cross has multiple walk-in center locations statewide, 600 health plan advisors, and 6,000 agents ready to help consumers across the state understand their options and enroll. Walk in centers have extended hours throughout February and will be open Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. They will also be open Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., except for Feb. 7.
During 2015 open enrollment, Blue Cross is continuing to offer its products to residents of all 83 Michigan counties – something only Blue Cross did during 2014 open enrollment. Both Blue Cross and Blue Care Network offer plans at the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Catastrophic levels. Blue Cross also offers a product at the Platinum level. Price points across Blue Cross' 41-product portfolio options include some of the lowest cost options across the state. Federal subsidies continue to help eligible people lower these costs. Last year, 87 percent of those who selected a plan through the Marketplace received financial assistance. To explore 2015 health plan options, consumers can visit bcbsm.com/myblue.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network of Michigan are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.
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SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan