Dec. 20 deadline for those seeking coverage Jan. 1
Editorial by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York
Only four days remain for individuals to enroll through the New York State of Health Marketplace to have coverage beginning Jan. 1. As the deadline nears, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is offering individuals' assistance with the enrollment process.
Originally marked as a Dec. 15 cutoff, the NYSOH extended the deadline after, per the state, "last month's extreme winter weather covered Western New York and other parts of the state in multiple feet of snow, making it unsafe for people to attend in-person enrollment activities."
To avoid paying a tax penalty, individuals must obtain coverage within the open enrollment window (Nov 15 through Feb 15) and maintain it throughout the year. The 2015 penalties for opting to not purchase health insurance are $325 per adult, $162 per child, up to $975 per family, or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater. The maximum penalty is the national average annual premium for a bronze insurance plan, which was $2,448 in 2014.
BlueCross BlueShield continues to offer "enrollment clinics" at BCBS Headquarters (257 W. Genesee St.) from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. until 1 pm. Saturday, Dec. 20. These classroom-style sessions offer members of the community access to the Internet, a short overview of the New York State of Health Marketplace and BCBS benefit consultants will be present to answer questions as individuals complete applications on their own.
In addition, BlueCross BlueShield representatives continue to field questions and help individuals understand their options at eight Western New York Target retail stores. Representatives of the health plan with iPads and enrollment collateral will staff BlueCross BlueShield kiosks this Thursday and Friday from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"There is still time for individuals to log on to shopbluesplans.com, assess their options and find the plan that fits their needs," said Dave Busch, senior vice president, chief sales officer, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. "The New York State of Health is running smoothly and we continue to provide assistance."
Online enrollment remains the most popular channel for individuals looking to gain coverage. BlueCross BlueShield offers an intuitive shopping journey for individual exchange shoppers at www.ShopBluesPlans.com. The website features an easy-to-use personal quote and subsidy calculator with a soft transfer over to the New York State of Health Marketplace to finalize the individual's selection.
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is uniquely positioned to offer Exchange consumers a widely recognized and trusted health brand with 12 distinct product options, along with a strong array of value-adds, including:
•$250 wellness card for gym memberships, massage therapy, health food store purchases, and races of 5K, 10K and marathon distances' entrance fees;
•More than $1,000 in savings with "two for one" cards - to be mailed in a blue box in January - created exclusively for BlueCross BlueShield of WNY subscribers by City Dining Cards (www.twoforonewny.com);
•More than 50 free checkups and preventive services;
•A membership card that is recognized and accepted worldwide, not just in Western New York
In addition to individual health insurance, the BlueCross BlueShield plans include dental-only coverage for children and adults and a variety of health insurance offerings for small businesses (two-50 employees).
Individuals can speak with a BlueCross BlueShield customer service representative by calling 1-800-888-5407, Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm.