CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has extended to Jan. 31 the premium payment deadline for consumers who selected a Health Insurance Marketplace plan by Dec. 24. The effective date of coverage for those plans was Jan.1.

The original deadline for payment on these plans was Dec. 31, but previous technical issues with the healthcare.gov website prompted BlueCross to extend it to Jan. 15 and now to Jan. 31 to help reduce the possibility of gaps in coverage.

“We wanted to provide as much flexibility as possible for our members — many who are new to the process of purchasing insurance,” said Kelly Paulk, director of product strategy for BlueCross. “Payment is the final step in the process. Consumers can apply and select a plan, but it is payment of the premium that completes enrollment and puts their coverage into effect.”

Members who saw a doctor or filled a prescription before they paid their premium can submit these bills to BlueCross, after they make their first premium payment. Payment can be made online, via mail by check, or by calling 1-855-484-0282.

Following are some helpful tips for Marketplace shoppers:

If you have enrolled in a plan and paid the first month’s premium, you should receive welcome materials from the insurer within seven to 10 business days. If not, call the Marketplace customer service line at 1-800-318-2596, to verify you completed your enrollment.

Confirm you’ve made payment. When applying through healthcare.gov, you should be directed to the insurer’s website to make arrangements for your premium payment. If not, call the insurance company directly to make payment. Making payment is necessary to put coverage into effect.

You’re just not sure you completed enrollment. It usually takes two business days/ three over weekends for your information to be transferred to and uploaded by the insurer. If you enrolled in a BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee plan, you can call 1-800-459-6363 to verify that we received the enrollment information.

You haven’t started shopping yet. Remember that signing onto healthcare.gov from your own computer is not the only way to shop for coverage unless you specifically want to check to see if you qualify for a premium tax credit. You can call BlueCross to shop at 1-800-459-6363. You can also call the Marketplace directly at 1-800-318-2596 to enroll over the phone. There is a list of certified brokers and of certified application centers on BlueCross’ website bcbst.com/knownow. Marketplace open enrollment continues through March 31.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.