preps for onslaught during open enrollment

October 30, 2014

Most everyone remembers the nightmare called open enrollment that began October 1, 2013. Millions rushed to the site to check rates, including agents and brokers selling insurance who had not received any prior rate info from insurance carriers. The site, that was built by the Federal Government for over 30 states, continued to crash for weeks on end. President Obama appeared on the news daily, or so it seemed, giving updates and saying "don't worry; we are aware of the problems and fixing them." Meanwhile, rumors soared about HHS not signing off on a security system, hundreds of millions of tax-payers dollars spent on a faulty system, and the firing of vendors that took millions of the government money and did not produce a workable product. So now, a year later, CMS (Center for Medicare Services is assisting in handling many aspects of the site including phone support and certifying of agents that sell on the exchange) is saying "don't worry; we are ready." Do you believe them?

Keep in mind that EVERYONE that has an INDIVIDUAL policy will now be shopping - they are only allowed to make changes one time per year. The annual open enrollment begins November 15th and runs to February 15th each year. If you do not make changes during this time, you cannot make changes later in the year. So if your income goes down a little (but not enough to qualify for a tax credit), you cannot call the insurance company and say "I want to raise my deductible to save money." it is not allowed by law. In fact, the insurance companies can pass along a rate increase to you in July and you cannot do anything about it. This actually happened quite often to people who were insured by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of IL and kept their old plans. These Blue Cross clients called to make changes to their plans mid-year (as they had been allowed to do for years and years) after receiving a letter of an increase after March 30, and were told - take the increase or cancel your insurance and pay the penalty; a rate increase is NOT a qualifying event and does not allow you to shop - BUT SHOULD BE! I have personally tried contacting Congressmen to discuss this - we need to change this part of the law because it makes no sense. (NOTE: Last year the open enrollment went to the end of March but was extended to April 15th for individuals that applied for and received an extension to apply due to website problems....NOTE: They were still having problems with the website the end of March 2014!)

So not only will the 8.8 new insureds (and the tens of millions of uninsureds that didn't buy last year) be shopping on 11/15, but every single, solitary individual that bought an individual health plan every will be shopping because it is the ONLY time they can. Now, let me ask you again, do you think the problems will be fixed and the site won't crash? prepares for open enrollment