Affordable Care Act

Everything to Know About the Annual Open Enrollment Period

Published on December 18, 2019

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What is the annual open enrollment period?

Open enrollment is the annual period where you can enroll in major medical health insurance plans.

Why do we have an open enrollment period?

The open enrollment period was put into place to discourage adverse selection – which happens with sick people sign up for health insurance and healthy people don’t. It greatly skews the amount of risk a health plan takes when insuring customers.

The open enrollment period is to prevent skewed risk.

When is the annual open enrollment period?

The federal open enrollment period runs from November 1st through December 15th every year for health insurance coverage beginning the following year.

For example, for health insurance coverage beginning in 2020 you would enroll during the open enrollment period running from November 1st through December 15th in 2019.

While the federal open enrollment period runs from November 1st through December 15th annually, there are a few states that have announced permanent extended open enrollment periods. California, Colorado, and Washington DC have announced permanent extended open enrollment periods.

There are several states that have state-run health insurance marketplaces instead of federally run marketplaces. These states have the power to extend open enrollment – in the past states have announced extended open enrollment periods during open enrollment, so be sure to keep up to date on health insurance news if you live in a state with a state-run marketplace.

When does the open enrollment period end?

The open enrollment period ends on December 15th, unless you’re living in a state with an extended open enrollment period.

California’s open enrollment date ends on January 15th. The last day to apply for coverage starting on January 1st is December 15th. Insurance purchased after December 15th will start no later than February 15th.

Colorado’s open enrollment ends on January 15th. The last day to apply for coverage starting on January 1st is December 15th. Insurance purchased after December 15th will start no later than February 15th.

Washington DC’s open enrollment date ends on January 31st.

Additionally, if you live in a state with a state-run marketplace, your state may choose to extend open enrollment. States with state-run marketplaces include Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont.

 States with state-run marketplaces that have extended open enrollment in the past include Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington

How long is the open enrollment period?

The federal open enrollment period is 45 days long. The open enrollment period varies in length when it comes to states that have their own permanent extended open enrollment period.

Additionally, state-run states may choose to extend their open enrollment period by anywhere from a few days to a week or so.

When is the open enrollment period for health insurance for the 2020 coverage year?

The federal open enrollment period for purchasing health insurance coverage runs from November 15th 2019 through December 15th for coverage beginning on January 1st 2020.

You can learn more about the 2020 open enrollment periods by state on eHealth.com.

What are the exceptions to open enrollment?

Unless you experience a qualifying life event, you will have to enroll for health insurance during the open enrollment period.

Some qualifying life events that will qualify you for a special enrollment period are loss of coverage through an employer, loss of coverage through a covered employee, and major family changes.

Qualifying Life Events for Obamacare

Keep in mind that if you lose coverage because of failure to pay insurance premiums, you will not qualify for a special enrollment period.

How long are special enrollment periods?

Special enrollment periods are typically 60-days long and will allow you to purchase major medical insurance.

Does Medicare have an open enrollment?

Medicare has an annual election period (also known as AEP) which refers to period of time that Medicare enrollees can reevaluate and make changes to their coverage.

AEP begins on October 15th and runs through December 7th with changes effective on January 1st of the following year.

Is there an open enrollment for dental insurance?

There is no open enrollment for other insurance products such as dental and vision. These plans – as well as accident, short-term, and other types of insurance – are available to purchase year around.

We’ll let you know when we publish anything new.