Reviewed by: Patience Itson
What is open enrollment? 5 things for Alabamians to know
We all know that medical insurance can be a daunting topic, and terms like “open enrollment” can be intimidating. However, it’s also a very important thing to know, and we’re here to break it down for you Alabama. Whether you’re in the Shoals or the Gulf Coast, here are five things to know about open enrollment and what you should be doing before it’s over.
1. Open enrollment is running right now
The first thing to know about open enrollment is when it starts and ends—we’ll get to what happens during this period later.
The main annual enrollment period is the one for Medicare. Most applicable to those over the age of 65 (as well as those under 65 that have Medicare due to disability), open enrollment for Medicare runs from October 15-December 7 each year.
Another open enrollment period is happening right now, too. For those individuals that aren’t on Medicare and don’t have coverage through their employer, November 1-January 15 is the annual enrollment period.
2. Open enrollment is your chance to change your health insurance plan
Take a moment to answer these two questions:
- Is your health care coverage not working for you?
- Is your health care coverage too expensive for you?
If the answer is yes to either of these questions, open enrollment is your chance to do something about it.
We talked with Brent Carter, Consumer Sales Manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, about how important these changes can be.
Carter explained that if your health care coverage isn’t cutting it, open enrollment is a very important period. Once you’ve chosen your plan, it takes effect on January 1. From then until the next open enrollment period, you’ll be locked into your plan (unless you have what’s called a “qualifying life event” happen outside this timeframe).
3. It’s not as complicated as it sounds
When you receive the information about open enrollment in the mail, you might be a bit overwhelmed, but don’t worry.
“It’s very straightforward to change plans. It can be done online, it can be done over the phone and it can be done in person with an agent.”Brent Carter, Consumer Sales Manager, Blue Cross and Blue Shield
But what if you’re happy with your plan and don’t need any changes? That’s even simpler. You don’t have to do a thing! You’ll be automatically re-enrolled in the same plan for the next year.
4. You should be asking questions during open enrollment
If you’re looking to make a change to your plan, Carter gave some tips.
“Seek advice, ask questions. If you don’t know what questions to ask, it’s okay just to pick up the phone and call.”Brent Carter, Consumer Sales Manager, Blue Cross and Blue Shield
According to Carter, there are two critical factors to consider when researching what plan is right for your life:
- What doctors do you see?
- What prescriptions do you take?
By asking these two questions, you can ensure that your doctors are in your health insurance network and your prescriptions are covered.
5. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has your back
During this important time of year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama goes above and beyond to make sure its members are in the know.
Through meetings, webinars and over-the-phone service, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama educates its members on how to find a plan that best suits their needs.
Carter walked through the process with me, explaining how an agent would ask specific questions to make sure my plan would be most beneficial for my circumstances—ensuring I don’t pay more than I need to and that I have adequate coverage.