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Sep. 25, 2020

It is time to start planning for next year and that means getting ready for open enrollment. Open Enrollment is when uninsured individuals under the age of 65 can sign up for health insurance plans.  It is also the time of when individuals with a Marketplace plan can review and renew their plan for 2021. This year’s Open Enrollment is Nov. 1 – Dec. 15 – it’s a short 45-day window. 

If you do not enroll in a plan by Dec. 15, you cannot enroll in a plan for 2021 unless you qualify for a special enrollment period. Those circumstances include losing health coverage, getting married, having a baby or adopting a child.

This year, there may be more people considering purchasing insurance through the individual marketplace, as many people have lost their jobs and insurance. According to Business Insider, South Carolina has lost nearly 80,000 jobs in the private sector and is one of the top 25 states at greatest risk for job loss during the pandemic. 

“If this is your first year purchasing individual insurance, be prepared for differences,” says Denise Jefferson, director of direct marketing and retail strategies with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Group and Individual Marketing. “Group insurance is very different from individual insurance and anyone new to purchasing individual insurance should know the process won’t be the same.”

BlueCross has agents available to help you understand and find the best insurance for your circumstances. 

What is new this year? 

You may be more confused this year since there are more available plans. BlueCross is the only South Carolina-based insurance company that has been in the marketplace since it started. 

You cannot change insurance plans again until next year’s open enrollment period, so make sure you find the best plan for you and your family. BlueCross’ agents will help you navigate the options to find the right one for you. 

Because more people are looking for insurance, you may find there are increased wait times for speaking with someone about plans. It is important to shop early and not wait until the last minute. 

Can I afford health insurance? 

It is important to know that there are options for everyone in the health care marketplace. Some individuals and families qualify for a “premium tax credit” that lowers your premium — the amount you pay each month for your insurance plan. The amount of this credit depends on your income. 

To find out what kind of savings you may be eligible for, use the cost savings tool on www.Healthcare.gov

If all this seems confusing, a BlueCross agent can help you navigate these options to make sure you understand what insurance plan best meets your needs. BlueCross covers every financial situation, whether you have an income or not. 

“We have solutions for almost every situation,” Jefferson says. “It is really important to call because there are so many different options, and it isn’t customized to your individual needs.”

Before selecting a plan based on the lowest premium, consider whether you can afford higher out-of-pocket expenses or more expensive copayments. A copayment is a fixed amount ($20, for example) you pay for a covered health care service after you've paid your deductible. 

“This is what BlueCross agents can help you understand,” Jefferson says. 

Important now more than ever

If there’s one thing the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it is that having access to health insurance and health care is more important now than ever. 

“Be prepared for the unexpected. A lot of people have taken it lightly that they are young, healthy and don’t need insurance. But with so many uncertainties with this pandemic, there is a predicament you might be in later, so you need to be prepared,” Jefferson says.  

Why choose BlueCross? 

BlueCross has been in South Carolina for 73 years. The company is the only ACA health insurance provider to offer coverage in every South Carolina county since 2016. BlueCross has an A+ Superior rating by AM Best for 17 consecutive years.* BlueCross also has superior customer service. The team at BlueCross can help individuals get the maximum financial assistance available.

“We care about South Carolinians because we are South Carolinians,” Jefferson says. “We are here, and we aren’t going anywhere.” 

A few other benefits of BlueCross plans:

  • Access to the largest network of doctors and hospitals in South Carolina
  • The largest selection of plan options
  • Access to our BlueRewardsSM program, which gives members up to $150 per year for completing wellness activities. This money can be used to cover out-of-pocket health care costs (excludes pharmacy).

How to get help

This year, there won’t be places to go for in-person help because of COVID-19. However, you can get help more easily through virtual calls with BlueCross agents. You can schedule an appointment from your couch and find what works best for you on your own time. 

When you do call to get started, be sure you have all your paperwork ready, Jefferson recommends. It will make the process easier. This means have your tax documents with you and the Social Security numbers of everyone in your household. 

“Don’t sit back and do nothing. Any changes in your household will change your eligibility,” Jefferson advises. “Give us a call and let us help. Not only will we find a plan that is right for you, we will help you understand it as well.” 

*AM Best Rating of A+ as of Dec. 10, 2019. 

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