With the 2018 Open Enrollment well under way, two topics remain at the forefront of its discussion.  The first is centered around the significantly shortened 8 -week signup period.  This is something brand new to the process, as previous Open Enrollments have lasted approximately three months.  Officially, the 2018 healthcare enrollment will run from November 1st 2017 to December 15th.  After that, only those who qualify for Special Enrollment will be able to buy coverage.     

As for why the decision was made to condense the process to just eight weeks, there is plenty of speculation but no real definitive answer.  It almost depends on who you ask.  The only thing that we do know for certain, is that the shortened enrollment period places a tremendous burden on those who need to purchase or update their coverage; as well as the agents, marketplace support staff, and carrier employees tasked with the responsibility of helping everyone get signed up in time.  So it goes without saying that waiting until the last few days is not recommended.

Open Enrollment Deadlines

Aside from the December 15th close of Open Enrollment, there is another important deadline that needs to be mentioned.  For those looking to ensure that their coverage is active on December 1st 2017, all applications (and any required paperwork) must be completed and received by the carrier or marketplace no later than November 15th.  If not received by this day, your new plan will not kick in until January 1st of the new year.

Medicare Enrollment

With regard to Medicare, those turning 65 this year need to mark December 7th on their calendar, as that is the final day to enroll for Medicare in 2017.  This applies to all new Medicare plans, as well as Medicare supplements and related products.

Healthcare Plan Enrollment Options        

The process has remained relatively consistent over the past few years, and there are essentially three ways to go about buying health insurance:  online, over the phone, or with the assistance of a licensed agent.  By now, many are accustomed to the notion of buying their own coverage.  Still, it’s a new phenomenon for just as many, and this will ultimately determine how one goes about doing so.  

If you’re savvy to the all the little details and changes inherent in shopping for health insurance—comparing plans, understanding deductibles, and the ins and outs of physician networks—you’ll likely be okay on your own.  For those new to it, on tight budgets or dealing with significant lifestyle changes (new dependents, a recent move, etc.), it’s wise to get in touch with a local agent.  Most agencies do not charge fees for open enrollment assistance, and can help with everything from traditional plans and subsidies, to Medicare enrollment and existing plan modifications.

One last thing, and this is important.  Application mistakes are far more difficult to correct under the new healthcare laws.  So if you have any real reservations about the process, working with an agent who genuinely understands the fine points of the ACA can serve as a real advantage.

Free Assistance with IL Health Insurance Sign Up

If you’re in Illinois and have additional questions about choosing the best healthcare coverage for yourself or your family, Premier Financial Insurance can help.  As mentioned, there are no fees for our consultation and enrollment services, regardless of whether or not you buy your coverage through us.  

To learn more or speak with an agent immediately, give Premier a call at 800-369-0287 or drop us a line through our site’s secure contact page.  We have extended hours throughout Open Enrollment and your information is never shared or sold to third parties.