PHILADELPHIA -- With Open Enrollment for individual consumers ending this week, Independence Blue Cross (Independence), the region's leading insurance provider, is out in the community helping people sign-up for individual health insurance plans before the December 15 deadline. Open Enrollment is much shorter this year. Consumers must enroll in a health plan on or before December 15 if they want to be covered for 2018. To help last-minute enrollees, the insurer has licensed agents available by phone, online, and in-person. For 2018, Independence is the only insurer offering plans both on and off the Marketplace — including 15 different HMO and PPO plans across all metallic levels on the Marketplace and 17 plans across all metallic levels off-exchange. The tax credits available in our market have increased this year so consumers may be eligible for more financial assistance to help pay their premiums. More than half of the people who are renewing their Independence plan through the Marketplace will pay zero dollars a month for insurance premiums in 2018. For those who are not eligible for financial assistance, Independence added two Silver plans that will be offered directly from the insurer. These plans are less expensive but with similar plan benefits as those being sold on the Marketplace. Those not eligible for financial assistance to help pay their premiums should consider enrolling in a plan for 2018 directly from Independence. To help consumers understand their options and enroll in the coverage that is right for them, the Independence Express, the insurer's mobile education and retail center, will be open every day through Friday. For more information about Independence events during Open Enrollment, visit events.ibx.com/independence-express. Independence LIVE, the insurer's customer and community experience center located at 1919 Market Street in Philadelphia, offers a variety of health and wellness opportunities for the entire community and is a one-stop shop for Independence member services. Licensed agents are also available to help people enroll in coverage. Independence LIVE is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Friday. In addition, Independence licensed sales agents are available by phone at 1-888-475-6206 to answer questions and help consumers enroll in health coverage from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., through Friday. Finally, consumers can visit Independence's easy-to-use website — ibx4you.com — to find the coverage that is right for them and enroll either on or off-exchange. The website includes a subsidy estimator that allows consumers to quickly determine if they qualify for financial assistance to help pay for their coverage. To complete the enrollment application, consumers will find it helpful to have on hand the following items for all members of the family they wish to enroll: Social Security numbers (or tax numbers); addresses and dates of birth; information on tobacco use; income information (pay stubs or W-2 forms, tax returns, and salaries); employer information, including employer name, address, and telephone number; policy numbers for any current health insurance plans; and information about any work-related health insurance available. About Independence Blue Cross Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurance organization in southeastern Pennsylvania. With our affiliates, we serve more than 8.5 million people in 24 states and the District of Columbia, including more than 2.5 million in the region. For almost 80 years, we have been enhancing the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve by delivering innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneering new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals for coordinated, quality care; and supporting programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more, visit www.ibx.com. Connect with us on Facebook at ibx.com/facebook and on Twitter at @ibx. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.