NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - If you've already logged on to the healthcare marketplace to choose your insurance plan, you've probably noticed a few changes this year. Not only do you have less time to get it done, but you also have fewer options - and local insurance brokers have two words.
"Very hectic," said quoting agent Tabatha Bode.
Bode works for Dan Burghardt. She says they had a waiting list of customers even before the process began. Bode says part of the issue is how much time people have to enroll. It used to be November 1 through January 31.
"It's now changed to November 1 to December 15, so it's literally half the time," Bode said.
She believes that may be one reason why so many people are flocking to the marketplace to sign up for insurance. According to the Washington Post, more than 200,000 people chose a plan the day open enrollment started. That's more double last year's day-one figure.
Bode says a number of her clients are also having to choose a new provider this year.
"We're getting a lot of calls from Humana customers stating they got a letter that they are no longer offering individual health policies. So, they're having to re-shop," she said.
While customers can still choose from big names like Blue Cross and Vantage, you may see a few providers missing this year.
"We had United Health Care and Humana at different times participating on the exchange in our market, both of whom have now left the market," explained Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon.
Bode says it's meant a lot of frustration for locals trying to find comparable plans.
"There's just a lot of people calling in there just frantic is all I can say. They're just worried about not getting covered," said Bode.
Bode says many consumers are dealing with higher premiums this year, too, especially for PPO plans.
One thing to keep in mind - coverage kicks in Jan. 2018 of next year, but you have to pay your premium by the end of December.