How to Take Advantage of Healthcare Open Enrollment
Sadie Tuescher, Wisconsin Health Insurance Advocate
Open Enrollment for health care is just around the corner! This year the window to review and enroll for individuals and families who buy their insurance through healthcare.gov is November 1st to December 15th. If you’ve done an application on your own before, you know it can be a tedious process. I recommend you consider getting help with your application to make the process very easy with professional guidance (much easier and quicker than doing it on your own!), as well as the added benefit of support throughout the year. The best part is that enrollment help is no-cost.
For businesses who offer insurance to their employees, August and September are perfect months to start offering coverage. If you’re a business owner and thinking about offering insurance for the first time, I believe now is the perfect time to start–you’ll save potentially thousands by getting current year rates and will always be riding the rate increases a year late. For businesses who want a January 1st start date, October is a great time to get started looking at options and getting quotes. My inside scoop is that many bigger companies have promised early release of their 2018 rates this year to encourage earlier quoting and enrollment rather than leaving the choice until December.
For individuals/families, my advice is to take an active role in your application each year rather than letting it just roll over. Prices change every year, and letting the system auto-enroll you could lead to being enrolled in a different plan and company that doesn’t cover your doctors. According to CMS, in 2015 4.5 million Americans simply let the system auto-enroll them for 2016. I spoke to too many people at the end of 2016 who really regretted their inaction. I saw too many people who had inaccurate income information in their applications and who were auto-enrolled in a plan that didn’t cover their doctors. I was able to fix the issue for 2017, but we couldn’t go back in time. Many of these folks found they owed more taxes on their returns, which could have been avoided with the right advice and help from the start.
It’s well worth your time to review your application, and I highly recommend you get help doing it. For both businesses and individuals/families, a skilled agent will quote you all the options and make the process easy for you by filling out the application, demonstrating knowledge about the available plans, submitting documents on your behalf, setting up your payments, and offering ongoing support throughout the year if questions or issues arise.
If you’re a small business that does not currently offer coverage, my advice is to consider providing the next best thing by offering your employees a referral resource for help. I recommend informing your employees about the dates of open enrollment and giving specific suggestions on where and how to get help, such as a local agency like Wisconsin Health Insurance Advocate, LLC they can contact for no-cost help.