Now that we in the industry have had a few years to better understand the new health insurance open enrollment process, we're in a better position to let families and individuals know what awaits as the deadline draws closer. Regardless of whether you've had a significant life change around the first of the year or have simply been putting it off, here are a few things to keep in mind if you still need to buy medical coverage.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Day
Actually, a much better headline for this section would be, "Don't Wait Until the Last Week". Cramming an entire year of healthcare enrollment into three frantic months has a way of guaranteeing that things go bats as we get closer to cutoff. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people trying to get signed up at once, and as recent history has demonstrated, many don't get through.
Allow Time to Correct Application Mistakes
One of the fundamental differences between now, and the good ol' days when you could buy health insurance at any point during the year without Big Brother's permission, is that now, mistakes and oversights can be far more challenging to correct. If you wait until zero hour, catching and correcting errors might be impossible to change until the next Open Enrollment. In light of the volume of requests, we suggest leaving at least a 10 business-day window.
Don't Ignore the Health Insurance Deadlines
The importance of understanding enrollment deadlines can't be overstated. As a way to be absolutely safe, just remember that if you want your coverage to take effect on the first of the upcoming month, make sure that you've completed and submitted your application and paperwork by the 15th. So as an example, if you need to have active coverage on February 1st, make sure everything is done by the 15th of January. If not, it won’t kick in until March 1st.
If You're Unsure, Get Advice from an Agent
It makes no difference whether you're looking to buy a traditional health plan, apply for a healthcare subsidy or change your existing coverage… working with a health insurance broker who thoroughly understands the Affordable Care Act can save you a tremendous amount of time and frustration. If you're in Illinois or the Chicago area, Premier is located and Lisle and charges no fees for professional Open Enrollment assistance.