Commissioner Nickel Reminds Wisconsin Consumers 2018 Open
Enrollment Deadline Approaching
2018 Open Enrollment Closes December 15, 2017
Madison, WI—With the last day of open enrollment being December 15, Commissioner Ted Nickel encourages consumers to shop for health insurance coverage.
"It's important for consumers to carefully research coverage options to make the best choice for themselves and their families," said Commissioner Nickel. "For consumers who qualify for a subsidy on the federal exchange, it is important to understand how the subsidy will impact the actual cost of the plan. While we have reported an average rate increase of 36 percent for individual ACA-compliant health insurance plans, individuals receiving a federal subsidy will not necessarily experience a premium increase. Subsidies are only available through the federal exchange. Consumers not eligible for federal subsidies should consider plans offered off-exchange as well."
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurers to offer health insurance coverage on a guaranteed issue basis to all eligible consumers during the annual open enrollment period. Open enrollment allows individuals to re-enroll in their existing health insurance plan or to shop for a new plan either on or off the federal exchange.
Consumers seeking individual coverage that is effective January 1, 2018, should purchase a health insurance plan before open enrollment comes to a close December 15, 2017. Failure to do so puts consumers at risk of being locked out of the individual health insurance market until 2019. Consumers facing a loss of their group coverage or other special situations may be eligible for special enrollment periods.
Tips on Shopping for Coverage
When shopping for coverage, remember the cheapest policy may not be the best option. Questions to consider when deciding to change or keep one's current plan include:
- Will the plan allow you to see the providers you want?
- Will your current doctors accept your coverage?
- Will the plan cover the prescription drugs you are currently taking?
- What are the benefits that are excluded?
- What is the total cost to you, including premiums, coinsurance, copayments, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket expenses?
- If you have a specific health condition, is one type of plan better suited to provide the services you need?
In cases where a consumer's current health insurer is exiting the market and the policy was purchased through the federal exchange, the federal government will assign the consumer to a new health insurer if the consumer does not purchase coverage through the exchange. This process is called "alternative enrollment." To avoid alternative enrollment, consumers are encouraged to proactively explore their options and purchase a health insurance plan.
Interactive Coverage Map
The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) provides access to an interactive map showing all carriers available in each Wisconsin county and a link to the company Web site to explore plan options. The Health Insurer Map is a record of health insurance companies' marketing practices as reported to OCI in rate filings. Inclusion on this list is NOT an implicit or explicit endorsement by OCI. For access to the Health Insurer Map please visit oci.wi.gov/Pages/Consumers/FindHealthInsurer.aspx.
Be Aware of Scams
Fake insurance companies or agents defraud consumers by taking money for premiums on bogus policies with no intention of paying claims. Scammers may offer policies at costs that are significantly lower than competitors' prices and may ask for sensitive personal information up front. They might be difficult to reach by phone if there is even a listed phone number. Always find out if the seller represents a legitimate, licensed insurer before purchasing a policy or giving personal information.
Remember, federal subsidies are only available through the federal exchange. The federal exchange Web site is Healthcare.gov and you may call 1-800-318-2596 to speak to an exchange official.
Prevent yourself from being a victim of fraud. The best way to protect yourself from insurance fraud is to research the agent and company you are considering.
STOP before giving any personal information, signing any paperwork or issuing payment.
CONFIRM the company and agent is licensed to write insurance in Wisconsin. Licensing information about agents and companies can be found on OCI's Web site at oci.wi.gov or by calling OCI toll free at 1-800-236-8517.
Created by the Legislature in 1870, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.