With the 2014-2015 IL open enrollment period upon us, we understand that many residents still have a lot of questions on what it is, how to sign up, and what's covered.  Here are some of the most commonly asked questions that we're hearing at our agency about health insurance open enrollment. 

Question:  What is Open Enrollment?

Answer:  Under the new healthcare reform laws, families and individuals may only modify or purchase health insurance plans during a specific period of time referred to as the open enrollment period.

Question:  What are the Dates of Open Enrollment?

Answer:  The 2014-2015 Open Enrollment period begins on November 15th, and closes February 15th.  After that, you will not be able to modify a plan or buy health insurance until the next open enrollment period begins.

Question:  Will My Health Insurance Premiums Increase?

Answer:  While not everyone's premiums will go up, yes, the major carriers have raised rates to compensate for increased claims.  A licensed agent can help you explore all available options for keeping your premiums affordable.       

Question:  Should I sign up online or with a broker?

Answer:  If you sign up online, you're essentially on your own.  This means having to handle any follow-ups, customer service calls and other time-consuming actions.  Health insurance brokers charge no fees for their services, and can handle many aspects of the sign-up process for you.  Even if you're extremely health insurance-savvy, a broker can still present and explain more coverage & plan options, while making absolutely sure that your application has been completed without mistakes.

Question:  What if I make a mistake when buying health insurance online?

Answer:  Healthcare reform is incredibly complex, and making even a simple mistake can be a costly inconvenience that's difficult to change once you've committed.  One of the major advantages of signing up with a broker, is the guarantee that your application process will be handled properly and error-free, by an expert with in-depth knowledge of the new system.

Question:  How do I find out if I qualify for a government healthcare subsidy?

Answer:  There are essentially two ways:  You can visit the healthcare.gov website and complete the online qualification process and/or get information on phone and mail signup options, or you can work directly with a health insurance broker to determine all options and assistance programs that are available based on your circumstances.  

Question:  Who is eligible for free health insurance?

Answer:  In most cases, free healthcare coverage, or Medicaid, is reserved for those dealing with the most extreme financial hardships, including being out of work or supporting families on very limited incomes.  A broker can quickly and accurately help determine your eligibility for Medicaid assistance and other forms of financial relief.   

Question:  When will my new plan become active?

Answer:  In order for your coverage to take effect on the first of the month, a completed application needs to be processed by the 15th of the previous month.  For example, if you want to be covered on February 1st of 2015, you would need to have your application completed and submitted by January 15th.  If you wait until the 16th, your new policy will not be active until March 1st. 

Question:  Will my children or dependents be dropped from my existing health insurance policy?

AnswerIt is possible that some plans will no longer provide coverage for certain dependents, though many variables are taken into consideration.  This is one instance where it can be very helpful to have an experienced broker review the fine points of your current plan, if only to make sure that there are no surprises.    

Question:  Could my existing healthcare plan be canceled?

AnswerParticipation in the healthcare marketplace is not mandatory and, as a result, some major carriers are cancelling non-grandfathered plans, as well as non ACA-compliant individual and family healthcare plans.  If you are unable to get an answer from your insurance provider as to whether or not you're affected, an agent can generally find out directly from their contacts at the carrier.

Still have questions?  Did we miss something that you were hoping to find an answer on?  Call Premier's Lisle/Naperville office at 800-369-0287 or e-mail us to get honest, accurate information from one of our licensed agents.  We look forward to helping you make this year's enrollment process one that's fast, easy and rewarding.