Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is addressing higher call volumes and interest among Michigan residents in enrolling in Affordable Care Act health plans by increasing call center staffing and expanding call center hours leading up to the Dec. 23 deadline for coverage effective January 1, 2014. “People have lots of questions, and are spending lots of time on the phone with our Health Plan Advisors,” said Terry Burke, vice president for individual business at BCBSM. “With call volumes increasing, we want people to know that Blue Cross is taking steps to keep wait times as low as possible. Our goal is to provide people with resources to help them expedite their enrollment and make the most informed decisions about their coverage.” The Blues have extended call center hours and increased staff to more than 400 licensed health plan advisors. Advisors will be available through the weekend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Monday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. to enroll consumers in ACA-compliant plans. Consumers can call 855-237-3501 to speak to a licensed health plan advisor. People also can enroll in an ACA-compliant plan directly by visiting bcbsm.com/myblue, or can elect to work with licensed agents in Michigan who can assist with enrollment. There are steps people can take to expedite the process of enrolling, prior to calling a licensed Blue Cross health plan advisor:
- Create a Healthcare.gov account: Create an account on healthcare.gov is a critical first step in the process. It will reduce enrollment time while on the phone with a Blue Cross HPA.
- Check subsidy eligibility: Determining subsidy eligibility is a good second step. Michigan residents can use mobile phones to text “4Subsidy” to 222-752. Consumers can also visit BCBSM’s subsidy calculator at bcbsm.com/getready.Having an estimated subsidy can help people choose the right health plan premium and discuss options with a health plan advisor.
- Do research online: BCBSM’s corporate blog, MiBluesPerspectives.com, has answers to frequently asked questions about the ACA. BCBSM’s consumer information site, HealthCareReformBasics.com, is an interactive guide to the ACA.
There are many ways people can enroll in a Blue Cross health plan:
- Enroll directly through BCBSM.com: Consumers who have started an application on healthcare.gov can complete the process by calling 855-892-8089 and speaking with a BCBSM health plan advisor seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or they can visit bcbsm.com/myblue at any time. Consumers not eligible for a subsidy can avoid long wait times by enrolling directly online.
- Work with a Blues contracted agent: BCBSM has over 2,000 trained and certified agents registered to enroll individuals into Blue Cross products. Consumers can contact their agent directly for enrollment assistance.
- Find an agent: BCBSM has qualified agents in every county in the State of Michigan. Consumers can locate an agent in their area by visiting bcbsm.com/findanagent, and make a request for an agent to contact them directly within 24 hours to enroll, or call 866-582-5052 for the same service.
- Visit BCBSM walk-in centers: The Blues have re-focused its 10 welcome centers statewide to help consumers understand and navigate the changes in health insurance. Consumers can talk directly with a health plan advisor or licensed Blue Cross agent, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to determine the best plan for their specific situation, and ensure that each form is completed correctly to take advantage of any available federal assistance. Find a walk in center by visiting bcbsm.com/walkincenter.
“We are providing the tools people can use to research their plan options and subsidy eligibility before picking up the phone,” Burke said. “It’s important for people to know if they do not qualify for a subsidy, they do not need to call us or visit Healthcare.gov. They can go to bcbsm.com/MyBlue and enroll directly in a plan right now and avoid the long wait times on the phone. We also have more than 2,000 agents certified with CMS statewide to advise, assist and enroll consumers. The Blues’ have a longstanding history and strong partnership with these experts and they can guide a person to the right coverage before the deadline. Understanding subsidy eligibility and being able to ask the right questions are vital for people to make the right choices. ” BCBSM is the only health insurance company to offer ACA-compliant health plans in all 83 Michigan counties. For more information on ACA compliant plans or health care reform, contact the BCBSM Newsroom.