Open enrollment begins on Nov. 1. You’ll notice a lot of changes related to which insurance companies are offering plans on HealthCare.gov. For example, this year, there are less options for people in North Carolina; Coventry (now owned by Aetna) and United HealthCare are no longer offering insurance coverage on the Health Insurance Exchange. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Cigna are offering plans.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that all consumers have health insurance coverage, and that they maintain that coverage in 2017. Unless you select a plan on your own by December 15, a plan may be automatically chosen for you in order to meet the federal mandate. The plan you are automatically enrolled in may not be suited to your health care needs.
You have until January 31, 2017 to change your plan. However, automatic enrollment in plans will begin on December 16, 2016 to ensure you have health insurance coverage beginning January 1, 2017. If you wait until after December 15, 2016 to pick a plan, your coverage and care could be disrupted.
“We know this can be frustrating, but we also don’t want anyone to be taken by surprise by the possibility of being unknowingly assigned to a plan that no longer matches their preferences and meets their needs,” said Dr. Tom Owens, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer of Duke University Health System. “We want to bring this to people’s attention so that they understand the consequences if they don’t actively choose a plan.”