Facing Open Enrollment? 1

Tips To Having a Hassle-free Process

Idahoans will continue to have a range of options for their medical and dental insurance plans in 2018 — including 299 certified plans through the state’s health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho.

The open enrollment period for 2018 plans available through the exchange is November 1-December 15.

There’s no limited enrollment period for other programs such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. If you qualify for those programs, coverage can begin immediately, any time of year. The open enrollment period for any other individual or company plans purchased outside of the exchange may vary, so check with your agent or your company’s human resources director to stay on top of any changes in your policy.

“Idahoans across the state will have a choice of health insurance carriers when open enrollment begins on November 1,” Pat Kelly, executive director of Your Health Idaho, says. “Despite the limitations in other parts of the country, Idaho has maintained control of its marketplace to consistently provide consumer choice and access.”

Rachel Johnston knows how hard finding the right coverage for an individual or family can be. As the owner of Health Benefits of Boise, an independent agency offering benefits from a variety of Idaho’s carriers, Johnston has been a longtime advocate for Idahoans seeking coverage.

With 13 years of insurance experience, Johnston knows a thing or two about navigating the open enrollment world. Here are a few tips she has for a successful, hassle-free enrollment

1. Do some legwork

Some information will need to be gathered before you can even apply for coverage. To make the process easier, Johnston says, take the time to get organized. You’ll need information from your tax returns from previous years, employer information, your Social Security number and other previous policy numbers, if you have them.

“Think about it, it’s worth it to take a Saturday morning over a cup of joe to really plan out your coverage for something that will affect you for the next 365 days,” she says.

2 Know your login

While this step may seem obvious, Johnston said many people haven’t logged into the Your Health Idaho portal since they set up coverage the previous year. Johnston’s pro tip? The health exchange system provides you with a unique email address, so even if you forget the personal email address you used to sign up last time, or if that personal email is no longer functional, don’t panic. You should still be able to access your information.

3. Know your finances

Johnston says this is often where many people are the most under-prepared as they begin open enrollment. Do your best to estimate how much and what type of income you’ll have to claim. Despite proposed rate increases, many consumers who purchase on the exchange may see little to no change in their 2018 premiums due to tax credits, according to Your Health Idaho officials. The proposed rate increases for silver-level plans on the exchange are significantly higher this year because cost-sharing reduction subsidies are assumed not to be funded by the federal government. Tax credits will increase to offset the higher rates.

4. Do not procrastinate

Starting October 1, Idahoans can preview the 2018 health and dental insurance plans and networks by visiting YourHealthIdaho.org. Johnston says one of the most important changes this year to open enrollment is a new hard deadline for the enrollment period of December 15. Those changes were established by new rules from the federal government. Previously, Affordable Care Act enrollment continued through January, and Johnston says many, many people have grown accustomed to waiting until after the holiday season to enroll.

5. Get to know your agent

There is no option to opt out of agent fees through the exchange, Johnston says, so you might as well make a personal connection to the person handling your insurance. The better you know your agent, and the more comfortable you feel talking to them about your health care needs, the better they’re able to suggest a plan that fits your financial and health situation, she says.

6. Be your own advocate

Changes to insurance plans can be confusing to anyone, Johnston says, but that should never prevent a person from being an advocate for their own care. Always be willing to ask questions of your health care provider or pharmacist to ensure proper care, she says. If a treatment or prescription seems unnecessary or too expensive, ask your doctor or agent if there are programs to help offset those costs.