Assistance Available to Montana Consumers for Upcoming Open Enrollment
BCBSMT Offers Assistance to Better Understand Coverage and Financial Benefits Under Affordable Care Act
Helena, MT — With more than 175,000 uninsured residents in Montana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) is mobilizing comprehensive resources across the state to help consumers get the information they need to better understand the coverage and financial benefits that may be available to them under the Affordable Care Act, and to provide important reminders about the upcoming open enrollment process.
There are four main things consumers need to remember about this year's open enrollment period:
- Enrollment Time Line: The opportunity to gain access to affordable healthcare coverage through open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace is shorter this year than last, beginning on November 15, 2014, and ending on February 15, 2015.
- Auto-Enrollment: Consumers who already have coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace can choose to take no action and will be automatically re-enrolled in the same or similar plan.
- Check Your Plan, Know Your Options: Automatic renewal of ACA policies ensures enrollment for the next year, but it does not guarantee that the plan or monthly bill will be exactly the same.
- Subsidy Check: Consumers who are receiving financial assistance should be sure to update their financial and family information with the government by December 15 in order to ensure they receive the proper amount of financial assistance.
"No one plans to get sick or hurt, but one illness or injury can lead to very costly unexpected medical bills if the person does not have health insurance,” said John Doran, BCBSMT director of public relations. "It is important that people without health insurance begin planning for open enrollment in order to have access to high-quality, cost-effective health care options and avoid potential tax penalties."
In the coming weeks, BCBSMT will continue its efforts to educate uninsured consumers on how their family may benefit from the new health care law. Alliances such as those with agents and providers through BCBSMT's "Be Covered" program have allowed BCBSMT to expand its outreach efforts, providing consumers with unprecedented access to educational resources and tools.
"These important relationships also allow us to assist consumers through the critical process of updating important information to avoid gaps in coverage and to help them determine potential eligibility for financial assistance under the law," Doran said.
Examples of who may qualify for financial assistance:
- Individuals with incomes below $46,680
- Couples earning less than $62,920
- Families of four with an income under $95,400
- Families of five with an income under $111,640
The above are just a few examples, of many, who may qualify for federal assistance. In 2014, 67 percent of BCBSMT eligible enrollees qualified for federal subsidies to help cover the cost of their health insurance.
In addition to financial assistance for enrollees, other benefits of the health care law include:
- Guaranteed Coverage: Anyone can enroll in a plan and cannot be turned away — or be charged higher premiums — for preexisting conditions.
- No Annual or Lifetime Limits: Plans no longer apply annual or lifetime limits on coverage.
- Covered Preventive Care: Immunizations, cancer and diabetes screenings, developmental and behavioral assessments for children, well-woman visits and much more are covered at no out-of-pocket cost.
- Coverage for Essential Health Benefits: All plans cover 10 essential classes of health benefits such as emergency services, prescription drugs, mental health, pediatric services and more.
Consumers are advised to watch for local announcements for more information about events and programs taking place in their area to help them navigate the system and understand the choices that meet their coverage and financial needs. BCBSMT has also expanded customer service center hours at 855-765-1222 and provided more details about how uninsured individuals can prepare for open enrollment and learn more about their options. Additional information is also available at www.bcbsmt.com.