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Choose Your Insurance Plan on or One May Be Chosen for You

Open Enrollment Begins Nov. 1; Enroll in a Plan by Dec. 15 to Prevent Automatic Enrollment

By Debbe Geiger November 09, 2016

If you purchase health insurance on you’ll want to be alert to changes in your health care coverage and available health plan options that may dictate which plan you choose for 2017. Insurance companies are moving in and out of the Health Insurance Marketplace, which means you need to carefully evaluate your health plan options and choose a plan by December 15, 2016. If you don’t, you may be automatically enrolled into a plan that does not include the doctors, clinics and hospitals of your choice.

Read More About Auto Enrollment

Can’t Find a Plan on One May Be Picked for You

The New York Times

Fewer Insurance Options for NC Residents in 2017

Open enrollment begins on Nov. 1. You’ll notice a lot of changes related to which insurance companies are offering plans on 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.”

You have until January 31, 2017 to change your plan. However, automatic enrollment in plans will begin on December 16, 2016.

Less Expensive, Narrow Networks Becoming More Common

This year, many of the newer insurance plans are considered “narrow network,” meaning they offer a limited list of providers and hospitals who are considered in-network.

“Most of the plans that are going away were not narrow networks so people had access to broad lists of doctors, hospitals and health systems,” said Dr. Owens. “The newer, narrow networks plans you might be enrolled in typically limit your hospital choices to one or two health systems and offer a limited selection of providers. This can restrict your access to the doctors you typically see for care.”

Choose a Plan that Includes Duke

Your best option to ensure you continue to see the doctors, hospitals and clinics you visit regularly, is to choose the plan that best suits your needs by December 15, 2016. That prevents any possibility of being automatically enrolled in a plan that limits or changes your choices.

If you are looking for a plan that includes Duke Health in the Triangle area, Duke is considered in-network for Blue Local with Duke Health and Wake Med, a plan offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. As the name indicates, this plan also considers WakeMed in-network.  Outside of the Triangle, Duke is considered in-network for Blue Select and Blue Advantage, depending on what county you live in. Check to see health plans available in your North Carolina county of residence that give you access to Duke Health.

If you find yourself automatically enrolled in a plan that does not meet your needs and prevents you from accessing your preferred hospital, clinics and doctors, you have until January 31, 2017 to visit to change your coverage. 

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