Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network Encourage Consumers to Enroll Before Call Volumes Increase Around December 15 Deadline
by Carly Getz
| 4 min read
With just under two weeks to go before the Dec. 15 deadline guaranteeing Jan. 1 health plan coverage, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are encouraging consumers to enroll now in a health plan before call volumes and wait times increase later this month. Over the first two weeks of the 2015 open enrollment period, licensed Blue Cross Health Plan Advisors have averaged 15-30 minute total call times with consumers looking to enroll or re-enroll in 2015 individual coverage. Consumers have until Feb. 15, 2015 to enroll for 2015 coverage and avoid an increased penalty of $325 per person or 2% of household income. “Our highest call volume days during the last enrollment were two to three days leading into a major coverage deadline, and we anticipate a similar situation this year,” said Terry Burke, vice president, Individual Business for BCBSM. “With more than 500 HPAs on the phone, thousands of licensed agents throughout Michigan, and extended hours at our walk in centers, we’re ready to help consumers meet the upcoming coverage deadline.” Key consumer considerations for 2015 include:
- The penalty for not purchasing insurance increased. Tax penalty increases to $325 or 2 percent of household income – whichever is greater. That’s a lot to pay to not have health and financial protection.
- The enrollment period is only three months – half as long as last year. This shorter enrollment period makes it even more important for people to start looking at their options now.
- Michigan’s Marketplace is more competitive. Blue Cross more than doubled its product choices– from 18 to 41– to address consumer needs to meet a broader spectrum of health and financial needs.
- Consumers currently enrolled should review their 2015 plan options. Subsidies will likely shift –due to a change in income, or due to a change in the cost of the benchmark plan used to calculate the tax credit. To avoid being impacted at tax time, consumers need to update their financial and dependent information with the Federal Marketplace.
- Before choosing a health plan, consumers should know what the plan offers. Consumers should check to be sure their primary care doctor accepts the plan they want to purchase. Consumers should understand the differences between HMO and PPO plans, and ask about the network of doctors and hospitals available with their plan.
“Consumers have many options to consider, with 16 insurers participating on Michigan’s marketplace this year,” Burke added. “Blue Cross continues to listen to what our customers want and need in a health plan, creating affordable options for consumers throughout the state. Going without health coverage can be more expensive than being covered, and we want Michigan residents to plan ahead and get coverage early on to ensure their health and finances are protected.” People can enroll in an ACA compliant plan now until Feb. 15, 2015. Consumers enrolling Dec.16 – Dec. 31 will have coverage effective Feb. 1, 2015. Blue Cross and Blue Care Network have developed the following resources to help consumers over the coming months:
- HealthCareReformBasics.com/preparetobuy: This website walks consumers through the steps necessary to enroll in a health plan, as well as the information they will need when signing up.
- Text for Subsidy: Before shopping for a plan, consumers can text “4Subsidy” to 222-752 for an estimate on what financial assistance may be available. This will help consumers understand what their budget is for a new ACA compliant plan.
- In-person help: Blue Cross has walk-in centers throughout the state with customer service representatives, health plan advisors and licensed Blue Cross agents. Hours are extended on weekend to help consumers enroll in coverage and pay bills.
- Health plan advisors on the phones: More than 500 health plan advisors are on the phones Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to answer questions and help people enroll in plans. Health plan advisors can be reached by calling 1-855-237-3501.
Blue Cross continues to offer products to residents in all 83 Michigan counties – something only Blue Cross did during 2014 open enrollment - at the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Catastrophic levels. Price points across Blue Cross’ 41-product portfolio range from as little as $136 per month and federal subsidies continue to help eligible people lower their premium costs. During the 2014 enrollment period, 87 percent of those who selected a plan through the Marketplace received financial assistance. To begin exploring 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.