Q&A with Linza Jones
Blue Cross extends payment deadline for health insurance
Q: When do people need to enroll to have health insurance coverage in 2014?
A: Although the deadline has passed for health insurance that begins on Jan. 1, if you apply by March 31, you can have coverage that begins on May 1. While March 31 is the last day you can apply, I encourage people to shop now to ensure they have time to look at all their options, including with us and other insurance companies, and get the coverage they need. If you enroll in health insurance by Jan. 16, your coverage will begin on Feb. 1.
Q: What happens after applications are submitted on the health insurance marketplace?
A: We receive new applications from the marketplace every day. If you applied through the marketplace, it will take a few days for the marketplace to process your application before the information is sent to us. It then takes us a few days to process your application. Soon after your application is accepted, you will receive a welcome kit that includes your member ID and group number, your policy booklet and other helpful information about your benefits. We also will call you to make sure you understand your benefits and that we have the information we need to help you with your health care needs, such as your correct address and the names of everyone on your plan. The call only takes about 15 to 20 minutes. If you have any concern that the person calling you is not with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK), ask the caller for a number you can use to call us back.
Q: What are the payment options for BCBSOK members?
A: You can pay over the phone by calling our billing and payment hotline at (800) 792-8595, pay at a MoneyGram location (moneygram.com or (800) 926-9400), including many CVS and Walmart stores, or set up recurring payments that will automatically be deducted from your checking or savings account on the day you select. Call the customer service number on the back of your ID card to set this up.
Q: When is the deadline to submit payment for coverage?
A: If your BCBSOK coverage was scheduled to begin on Jan. 1, the deadline to submit the first payment is Jan. 30, no matter if you bought the policy on or off the health insurance marketplace. We extended the payment deadline to Jan. 30 to give customers extra time to pay their first month's premium. At a time when many people are learning about new products and responsibilities of being a new policy holder, we wanted to give people additional time in January to plan and budget for potentially new household expenses. I encourage you to submit your payment as soon as possible since your coverage only will be activated once the first month's premium is paid. Any claims for services received between Jan. 1 and when the first payment is received will be processed retroactively back to Jan. 1.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER