Affordable Care Act

Signing Up for Obamacare During the Open Enrollment Period

Updated on November 15, 2019


The Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) created a nationwide Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for individuals and families who need to purchase their own health insurance.

You can learn more about the open enrollment period for the 2020 coverage year on our resource center.

The 2018 open enrollment period was on  November 1, 2017 and ends on December 15, 2017. Similarly, the 2019 open enrollment period will be on November 1, 2018 and ends on December 15, 2018. 

Open enrollment is the one time of year, when almost anyone can sign up for a major medical health insurance plan without their application for coverage being declined, or needing a qualifying life event. 

The open enrollment period was changed on April 13, 2017 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

A final rule aimed at stabilizing the health insurance exchanges created under Obamacare was issued to address some concerns raised by health insurers that should repair problems with enrollment through government-run exchanges.

Prior to 2018, Obamacare open enrollment periods ran from November 1, to January 31, each year.
Outside OEP, most people cannot sign up for major medical health insurance unless they have certain major life changes called qualifying life events.  People unable to buy major medical plans may consider buying a short-term health insurance policy outside of OEP, but these short-term plans have many disadvantages — they cover much less than major medical plans, and can often reject applicants for medical reasons. Some people choose to make a health insurance package by bundling alternative or supplemental products such as indemnity medical insurance or gap insurance.

 Watch our video about signing up for Obamacare

Find out about signing up for Obamacare and about important enrollment deadlines by watching this video.

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