Time to enroll in a health plan again? Already?

Time to enroll in a health plan again? Already?

Time to enroll in a health plan again? Already?

How many times in life do we sign up for things? Maybe our parents signed us up for the best daycare before we were even born. Then there are the club registrations, the spirit wear orders, and the senior yearbook we want to have in twenty years.

Life is One Big “Open Enrollment”
I can’t stand missing registration deadlines. There go the cool T-shirts and good time slots.  Don’t get me started about summer camps and purchasing school supplies. Sound familiar?  The same sign-up idea goes for open enrollment for health care plans.

What’s the Rush?
Most registration windows are just a special few days or weeks. This helps the folks running the class or club get ready to do their best job for you. They can reserve that bigger room. They can order enough supplies at the best price. The happier you are with what you get, the more likely you are to sign up again. Remember, timing is everything. Plus, giving help is easier when all your needs are known ahead of time. That being said, you really don’t want to miss open enrollment if you can possibly avoid it. Mark your calendar now!

Again? Already?
The next open enrollment for individuals will be Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. “But, didn’t we just go through open enrollment?” you ask. It does seem like it, doesn’t it? Well, open enrollment happens every year. It’s a bit like an annual checkup for your health coverage.

Believe it or not, at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) we’ve been hard at work getting ready for open enrollment period for a while now. We’re fine tuning everything.  Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day (1993), year after year, we get ready for open enrollment, learning how to do it a little better each time. We listen to what you tell us. We talk to doctors’ offices. We look at trends in claims. We work on the plans we offer. We go over all of the ways we tell you about those plans. We look at all the forms we ask you to fill out. No detail is too small. Why? Because we love what we do! More importantly, we know it matters to you and yours.

What is so “open” about Open Enrollment?
Open means anyone can (and should) sign up for coverage for the next year. But, it’s only allowed within a set window of time. You may have heard it sometimes called an open enrollment period.

Outside of open enrollment, you can’t get a "full" health plan unless you have a “life event” and qualify for special enrollment. So if you change jobs or move, or the headcount at home changes, you can still get a health plan. It may even be the kind that gets those tax credits you hear about. Think: “the new kid in school mid-year.”  But start your stopwatch. You only have 60 days from your life event. Sixty days can sneak by in a heartbeat and then you are really limited.

If you miss special or open enrollment, and need something to tide you over until the next open enrollment, you can get short-term coverageBut it doesn’t include all the benefits a qualified plan does.

Do Employers Have Open Enrollment Too?
Absolutely! Open enrollment lets employers and insurers offer their best policies and services.  It also gives workers a chance to change their plan.  Picture a manager reminding staff by email or even in the hallway. They do this for one or two months, every year, to make sure employees have a health plan they need before the company renews policies for the next year. After the company’s open enrollment, guess what? An employee also needs to have a life event to make changes to his or her coverage. The dates may be different, but people with employer or group plans ask themselves the same questions and gather the same documents to make their choice during open enrollment.

What about Medicare?
Yes there is open enrollment for Medicare too. This year, Annual Enrollment Period is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. There are quite a few special details involved with Medicare enrollment periods. There are different date ranges for the different plans (Medicare Part A and Part B, Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).  Some date ranges are for people who are just getting Medicare. Some apply only to people who already have it. Some dates relate to when you turn 65. Some opportunities are once a year.  You can get all the details at bcbstx.com if you or someone you care about is turning age 65 soon.

Help Us Help You Get Ready
Make sure you get a health plan that works best for you.

Do you have everything you need to shop for a health plan?

Originally published July 1, 2015: Revised 2018

  • I'm very sorry you've experienced this however I am  glad you were able to speak with someone for assistance. ~ Kayla

  • I have been in contact with BCBSTX this morning, 1/24/2018.  Apparently, the billing system is not showing premium payments that were made from the BCBSTX billing and payments web page.  I am lucky that I took screenshots of my online payments that show confirmation numbers when I made them within the BCBSTX billing/payments web page.  The person I spoke to told me that without the payment confirmation numbers, the BCBSTX billing system may not show the payments that were made and that the BCBSTX payment confirmation emails I received are practically worthless.  What is sad is that email confirmations of payment do not contain confirmation numbers. I was told this morning that I will receive my 2018 BCBSTX ID card and welcome packet AFTER the billing inconsistencies have been fixed.  They do not know when that will be.  In the meantime, I have had to cancel doctor appointments and cannot refill one of my prescription drugs.  I do not understand how a company as large as BCBSTX can mess up something like this.  I have not been able to sleep at night since this is the first time in my life that I have not had proof of health insurance.  

  • Hello Fred, If you'd like to send us a private message I can have our team take a look at what's going on with this for you. ~ Kayla

  • This is the fifth year that I have enrolled through the Healthcare Exchange to get BCBSTX healthcare insurance.  The first four years were seamless!  This year I enrolled on 11/1/2017 and paid my 2018 premium on 12/7/2017, three weeks before the 12/31/2017 deadline.  I received email confirmations from BCBSTX on 11/7/2017 confirming my enrollment and premium payment.  On 1/4/2018 I got a BCBSTX email that my plan was canceled!  That day I immediately had a three-party call with BCBSTX, Healthcare.gov and me. Both Healthcare.gov and BCBSTX confirmed I enrolled and paid my 2018 premium on time.  BCBSTX blames the healthcare exchange for cancelling my 2018 plan and the healthcare.gov people tell me that only the healthcare provider can cancel a health plan.  I have been on the phone with BCBSTX at least eight times for three weeks now to find out when my 2018 plan would be activated.  Today, 1/23/2018, I was told by a BCBSTX representative to re-apply at the healthcare exchange again.  I told her I had already paid the January and February 2018 premiums through BCBSTX's EZPay system and the funds have already been deducted from my checking account, and that I have email confirmations of that.  All letters and emails from BCBSTX say my 2018 plan would start once my premium are paid, so why do I need to re-apply on the exchange again?  Am I confounded as to why my premium payments have been confirmed by email from BCBSTX but I still have no 2018 plan or 2018 health plan ID card.  Has anyone else had any problems with the activation of their BCBSTX plan this year (2018)?