For Immediate Release: October 21, 2014

Compare Health Insurance Plans During the Open Enrollment Period

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin wants to remind North Carolinians who purchase individual health insurance coverage to take advantage of the open enrollment period to compare plans and choose coverage.

The open enrollment period for 2015 coverage begins on Nov. 15, 2014 and ends on Feb. 15, 2015. In order to have coverage effective Jan. 1, 2015, you must enroll by Dec.15.

"Insurers will soon be sending renewal notices to their customers with information about 2015 coverage and costs. I encourage people to take action during the open enrollment period. Look at your options and decide if it's in your best interest to keep the plan you had last year or switch to another plan with your current insurance company or with a different company." said Goodwin. "By looking at all plans available to you, you may be able to save money or find a better benefits package for your needs."

The Department of Insurance is in the process of completing its review of individual health insurance plan rate filings submitted by insurance companies. Companies have filed average changes in premiums ranging from -10.6% to 17.6% for individual plans.

Buying Individual Coverage

If you do not have the option to buy health insurance through your employer, you can buy coverage in the individual market on the federal exchange at www.healthcare.gov. Depending on your household income, you may be eligible for premium subsidies and cost-sharing reductions for plans purchased on the federal exchange. If you are renewing a plan purchased through the exchange last year, you should confirm your subsidy eligibility.  

You may also purchase individual coverage off the exchange through an agent or broker or directly from an insurance company. Eleven insurers plan to sell individual health insurance coverage in North Carolina for 2015. Three of the 11 have expressed their intent to participate on the federal exchange.

Comparing Costs and Coverages

It's important to carefully evaluate your family's health care costs when deciding on a plan. To pick the best coverage, first calculate your costs from recent years and try to estimate what they might be for the coming year. Don't forget to include co-pays for doctor's visits, prescription medications and any procedures you might need.

Next, compare the premiums, out-of-pocket expenses and benefits under each plan. If you are buying a policy from federal exchange, you will be able to do a side-by-side comparison of the plans offered on the exchange. All plans have a Summary of Benefits and Coverage that summarizes key features and definitions in simple language to help you compare your options.

When choosing a plan, it's also important to check to see which medical providers (physicians, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, etc.) you may visit to receive covered care.

Questions about health insurance?

Contact the North Carolina Department of Insurance at 855-408-1212 or learn more at www.ncdoi.com.

For questions related directly to enrollment through the federal exchange, contact 1-800-318-2596 or visit https://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us/.

--NCDOI--