If you've used a credit card to sign up for an annual gym membership, chances are you've encountered automatic renewal. If you don’t take action to change or cancel your preferences after a year, the gym assumes you are happy with their services and will continue providing them to you. This same concept applies to individuals who purchased health insurance on the Marketplace last year and need to make any changes to their coverage by Dec. 15. Most individuals who do not make changes before then will be automatically re-enrolled in the same or a similar plan starting Jan. 1, 2015. Automatic renewal can be an easy time-saver, but if things have changed since you signed up for that gym membership or picked out your marketplace policy last year, you could be signing up for something that no longer fits your needs. Here are three things to consider before automatically renewing on the Marketplace:
- Your plan may not be offered next year: The plans insurance companies offer could change from year to year. If your insurance plan is not being offered for 2015, the Marketplace will select a plan for you that is similar to the one you had. But your premium and benefits may not be exactly the same, so it’s important to take an active part in selecting your plan.
- You may qualify for more savings: Many people assume they won’t qualify for financial help, but last year 88% of on-Marketplace Blue Cross enrollments were eligible for a subsidy. These savings can help lower monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs based on your income and family size. So if you've experienced changes to these in 2014, make sure to update your information on your Marketplace account. You can also use BCBSM’s subsidy estimator tool or text “4subsidy” to 222-752 to determine what you could save next year.
- You could end up owing money if you don’t report changes: On the other hand, if you fail to report changes that occurred in 2014, you may end up owing some money come tax time. Did you move across the state? Get divorced or separated? Make more money than you anticipated at work? Many things determine how much individuals pay for health insurance. Changes to these factors could lower or eliminate the amount of subsidies you qualify for, as well as which plans are available to you. To avoid owing money during tax season, make sure you keep your Marketplace account updated throughout the year.
After Dec. 15, if you did not change your policy on the Marketplace you will be automatically enrolled in a new health plan that will start on New Year’s Day. If you are automatically enrolled and later decide you want to change plans, you’ll need to do so by Feb. 15, unless you experience a qualifying life event in 2015. Even if you want to keep the same plan, you should log on to review 2015 coverage options and make sure your Marketplace account information is still accurate. For more health insurance tips read our Health Insurance 101 blog series, visit bcbsm.com/101 or follow the hashtag #Covered101 on our social channels. If you have a specific question, please submit your query online through our Customer Action Center. Photo credit: Paula Bailey (cropped from original)