Open Enrollment Begins Wednesday

Links to government-sponsored insurance inside

Mike Baggerman
October 31, 2017 - 9:00 pm

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Open enrollment for health insurance in 2018 begins Wednesday and runs until December 15.

"This is a chance to change insurance coverage and a chance to change insurance plans - to make it better or to diminish it depending on your particular situation- in your medical life," John Bartimole, a health care consultant and former President of the WNY Health Care Association, said. "So it's an important time."

The open enrollment period is shorter this year than previous years so the federal government is reminding the public to act quickly. If you don't act by December 15, you can't get coverage next year unless you qualify for a special enrollment period. Plans sold during Open Enrollment start January 1. 

LISTEN: John Bartimole on Open Enrollment

Physically enrolling in health care is simple, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY's Julie Snyder, because New York was one of the first states to create its own marketplace once the subsidized government health care system started. 

"All New Yorkers can access 'navigators' who can assist all residents of New York regarding their eligibility, what subsidies they may get," she said. "All of that is available online or by calling a toll-free number."

For individuals in Erie County who plan on applying for health care next year, the minimum price per month is $333.33, which includes medical plus child and dental insurance. The most expensive plan costs $444.92. Family plans range anywhere from $950 per month to $1,268.

Bartimole said the premiums for 2018 are around a 5 to 15 percent increase from 2017. 

"New York State has a very robust and a very easy to navigate system," he said. "They can look online and compare the plans. I think they have to have the current plan in front of them so they know what they have and can compare it authoritatively and what else is out there. I think it's time to look at finances to see if the current plan that they have is doing what they need to do at a price they can affort."

Snyder noted that the exceptions to the enrollment period include changes in employment and status changes, such as getting married or having children.

"We are strongly encouraging people to take advantage of the options on the New York State of Health and select even an essential plan, making sure they're getting basic coverage," Snyder said. "An annual physical exam is probably one of the best things you can do to stay healthy. Individuals may not feel that health insurance is necessary or they can't afford it, but again, in New York we have a robust exchange. There are many options -they call it 'medal levels'-...as well as the essential health plan."

The link to the New York Health Exchange can be found by clicking HERE. The phone number for the open enrollment is 1-855-355-5777.

LISTEN: Julie Snyder from Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY

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