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?

Many of us aren’t big fans of deadlines. We’re busy. Finding time to knock out another thing on your to-do list can be inconvenient. With some deadlines, a little procrastination may not really matter. That’s not the case when it comes to enrolling in your annual health care plan.

With rising costs, no one wants to be caught without quality health care. So, when open enrollment rolls around every year, it’s important to make it a priority.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Every year there is a set window of time when you can sign up for a health care plan. This special timeframe is called open enrollment, because anyone can (and should) sign up for coverage for the next year.

Outside of open enrollment, you can’t sign up unless you have a “life event.”  If you change jobs, get married or have a baby, you can get health insurance during a special enrollment period. But act quickly. You only have 60 days after your life event to enroll.

If you miss the open or special enrollment periods, you may be able to get short-term plan, but it will only offer limited benefits – not the full scope of member benefits you get with a regular plan.

Why the Strict Deadlines?

Organizing and limiting enrollment periods to small windows of time help insurers optimize benefits for their members. They can negotiate the best possible prices for medications, supplies, services and care when they know how many people they are serving. Open enrollment helps make all this possible.

What About Medicare?

Medicare has its own enrollment period. This year, annual enrollment is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. In addition, there are different enrollment dates for all the different parts (Medicare Part A and Part B), Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D). Some dates apply to people who are new to Medicare. Others are for people who already have it. Some dates are tied to the date you turn 65. Some enrollment periods are annual. You can find all the details at bcbstx.com.

Do Employers Have Open Enrollment?

Absolutely! Open enrollment lets companies offer their best policies and services. It also gives employees a chance to update their plan. Every year, managers remind employees to review their selections and make sure they have the health insurance they want before the company renews policies for the next year. After the company’s open enrollment, employees must have a “life event” to change their coverage.

Just Like Clockwork

Annual open enrollment usually takes place from Nov. 1 through mid-December. The actual dates can change from year to year, so check the dates when enrollment time comes around. Put it on your calendar so it doesn’t sneak up on you.

Believe it or not, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) spends most of the year hard at work getting ready for open enrollment. Starting in early spring, we begin to fine tune everything. We listen to your feedback. We adjust the benefits we offer. We go through the forms we ask you to fill out. We look at how and when to tell you about our plans. No detail is too small. Why? Because we know details matter.

Help Us Help You Get Ready

Be sure you get or keep the health insurance that works best for you.

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

Originally published 7/1/2015: Revised 2018, 2021

  • 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)?