New Mexico’s health insurance exchange will give prospective enrollees an extra month to pay for their January coverage as the organization works through some kinks in its efforts to roll out its own platform, according to officials.
BeWellnm is the state’s official health insurance exchange and makes health care plans available to New Mexicans who don’t get insurance through an employer, Medicare or Medicaid. In the past, the exchange used the federal enrollment platform, healthcare.gov, but in the fall began to transition to its own state-run platform.
BeWellnm CEO Jeffery Bustamante said Wednesday that the payments for January — formerly due Friday — will now be due Jan. 31. BeWellnm’s website will be updated this week to reflect the change.
Bustamante said the extension is in recognition of the problems some people are having navigating the new website, long waits for help over the phone and other issues.
“We are forging ahead,” Bustamante said. “The transition has had some notable successes. … (But) some people do have a more challenging time than others.”
A Journal reader who called Wedneday to share his experience is one of those people.
He said he signed up for the exchange using a broker, but ran into trouble creating the online account he needed to make a payment.
He said he tried to call beWellnm’s help line over several days without getting through.
“My broker said he set me up for insurance starting January but I can’t confirm that because I can’t set up my account,” the reader said.
BeWellnm does have an option for New Mexicans to come to its Albuquerque offices in person for help with enrollment, but the reader said he’s not done that because of mobility issues.
Bustamante said while many New Mexicans have been able to quickly and easily enroll through www.bewellnm.com, the Journal reader isn’t the only one having problems.
Bustamante said people who have had trouble signing up for an account are likely facing an issue making the transition from the federal site to the local site, not a website-wide technology problem. He said there may be several drivers behind those cases, and a team is working to fix the problem.
The high call volume the reader described has been an issue, Bustamante confirmed.
“Some of the good news is we have a lot of New Mexicans interested (in enrolling for health care),” Bustamante said. “… That has driven our call volumes up.”
Bustamante said beWellnm is devoting more resources to the call center to try to shorten wait times and call-back times. He also said the time of day plays a role.
“We’re seeing a lot of volume in the morning and midday,” he said.
The Journal reader said he did find a notice on beWellnm’s website that would allow him to send an email in order to make a payment and submit a form to request an adjustment to be covered in January. He sent it off — including a request to be enrolled for recurring payments — and said he only hopes he did it correctly.
“I have no idea if I’ve followed their instructions correctly or not,” he said. ” … I bet lots of people (are) in the same situation as I am.”
Bustamante said the email option was added to help people get their payments processed and that beWellnm’s billing team is monitoring that account in real time to make sure people in the reader’s situation aren’t left without coverage.
“We want to make sure New Mexicans know we’re in their corner,” Bustamante said.
Get help with open enrollment
Open enrollment through beWellnm.com ends Jan. 15 and Friday for Jan. 1 effective date. Resources for navigating enrollment include:
- Hotline: Call 1-833-862-3935 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
- Online: Visit beWellnm.com to make a virtual appointment with a certified agent, broker or enrollment counselor, or click the orange “Contact Us” button to submit a detailed email about enrollment issues.
- Drop by: BeWellnm isn’t scheduling appointments due to the pandemic, but does allow walk-ins at its Albuquerque office, 7601 Jefferson NE, for those who have exhausted other options.