Signed up for health coverage? Insurers encourage additional steps to make sure it really kicks in


    New Year’s Day marks the start date for many people’s insurance, enrolled through new online health care marketplaces. It’s a major milestone of the Affordable Care Act, but insurers in Philadelphia warn that individuals may need to take a few extra steps to secure that coverage.

    Last minute rush

    Area insurers experienced a flood of new enrollees in the waning days of 2013.

    “The last week has been more like the opening weekend of a movie, where everyone rushed out to see it,” says Brian Lobley, a senior vice president of marketing at Independence Blue Cross.

    Eighty percent of the company’s marketplace enrollments happened just in December. Now the company’s focus is on making sure enrollments have gone through the “back-end,” generating invoices and new ID cards “so that on January 1, they can have their coverage effective and available and use the services.”

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    But while January 1, 2014 marks the day insurance starts for many individuals who signed up through the federal marketplace, they may still need to take some additional steps to secure those policies, according to Lobley and others.

    Confirm enrollment

    Independence Blue Cross (IBX) and Aetna are the two area insurers offering plans to individuals through the federal marketplace in Philadelphia. Those who pick an Aetna plan should receive a confirmation letter “within approximately one week,” said Susan Millerick, a spokesperson for Aetna.

    If that doesn’t happen, contact them.

    Lobley, with IBX, wants people to call 1-888-475-6182 to confirm their enrollment regardless.

    In some cases, customer information may not have transfered properly from the federal marketplace to the insurance companies. The problem of missing or conflicting information has diminished substantially, with Lobley reporting that all of last week’s enrollments went through. Both Aetna and IBX are working to reconcile those issues, but Lobley says enrollees will also need to file a report with federal health officials.

    Delaware officials are encouraging enrollees through that state’s marketplace to call and confirm coverage with Coventry at 855-449-2889 and Highmark at 888-601-2242.

    Pay Premium

    After confirmation, enrollees will still need to pay the first month’s premium to secure their coverage. Aetna’s deadline is January 10. IBX’s deadline is January 28, with actual coverage in both instances still beginning January 1.

    People may be able to create a temporary ID card while insurers process the wave of new enrollments.

    Individuals who want insurance but have yet to sign up have until January 15 to enroll through the federal marketplace for coverage that kicks in February 1, 2014. Open enrollment ends March 31.

    This disclosure, Independence Blue Cross supports WHYY.

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