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The annual open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance plans starts Nov 1 and runs through Dec 15 for 2019 coverage. That’s a shorter enrollment period than years past, so make sure you don’t miss the window!

And that’s not the only difference this year. Here’s what you need to know.

Read your rate notice carefully

Know your coverage and what you’re paying for it. When you receive your 2019 rate notice in the mail, take a look at your benefits and your premium. They may be different from last year.

For many Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) customers, your monthly pre-subsidy premium may actually be lower than a year ago. On average, Blue Cross NC customers with individual, ACA-compliant plans are seeing premiums 4.1 percent lower for 2019. In some parts of the state, premium reductions will be even greater. 

Those lower premiums are thanks to a number of factors, including the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that allow us to pass the tax savings onto our customers. In addition, we’ve entered a new arrangement with UNC Health Alliance to be our exclusive provider for our Blue Value Plan.

Your rate notice will include a Verification of Coverage (VOC) that can be used to prove you have coverage starting January 1, 2019, until your member ID card arrives.

Remember: If you switch to a different plan or don’t make your January payment, the information in your VOC may not be correct.

Consider your plan options

Based on your 2018 coverage, we’ve chosen an ACA plan for 2019 that should provide similar coverage. But you should decide which specific plan is right for you and your family. Make sure you look over all of your options before selecting a plan.

You should receive a letter in early October directing you to a special renewal page specific to your plan. This will summarize the changes and help you select the best plan for you. 

Use the resources available to you

To find out if you qualify for a subsidy from the federal government, use our online subsidy calculator. If you qualify for a subsidy to help pay your premium, you’ll need to purchase your 2019 health insurance through the federal government’s Marketplace during Open Enrollment. 

If you haven’t already, register at BlueConnectNC.com, our member website. You’ll find information that can help you through the Open Enrollment process. You can also use Blue Connect to get the most out of your coverage, tracking deductibles, claims status, and other details specific to your plan.

To get an idea of what sort of coverage you’ll need, look over what you spent on health care last year. Blue Connect offers a Health Care Summary Report with details of your health care costs. This may be helpful in choosing a 2019 plan that’s cost effective for you.

Update your information

If you receive a subsidy from the federal government (also called an Advanced Premium Tax Credit), update your financial information on healthcare.gov as soon as possible. That’s the only way to be sure your 2019 subsidy amount is correct.

You’ll also want to make sure your contact details in Blue Connect are all up-to-date so you don’t miss any important information about your health plan. You can update your email and postal addresses through Blue Connect.

If you have questions along the way, call Blue Cross NC Customer Service at the number on the back of your member ID card. You can also come and visit us at one of our center locations in Raleigh (8511-107 Brier Creek Parkway) or Charlotte (5349 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy).

 

Chris Privett

About Chris Privett

Chris Privett is a communications specialist at BCBSNC, assisting the company’s leaders with speeches and presentations. Chris has a particular interest in sharing stories about BCBSNC’s role as a committed partner in North Carolina’s communities. His communications career began in 1990 in television news, later transitioning to public relations roles in nonprofits.

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