Affordable Care Act
When Can I Sign up for an Obamacare Health Plan?
Published on April 01, 2014
One question we hear often in our call center is, “When can I sign up for an Obamacare health plan?”
Our callers are often surprised to learn that they cannot simply sign up at any time they choose. Under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), you can typically sign up for a health insurance plan during the annual Open Enrollment Period, which starts November 15, 2014, and lasts until February 15, 2015. If you sign up with a health plan during that time, coverage usually begins on January 1 of the following year.
If you miss the Open Enrollment Period, you’ll need to have a “qualifying life event” to be able to enroll in a new health plan or change your existing coverage. An example of a qualifying event would be:
- A permanent move to new area that doesn’t carry your plan
- A change in your family – like a marriage, divorce, or a new child
- A change in your employment status – like a job change or job loss, that would result in an involuntary loss of your employer-sponsored plan
- Graduating from college or losing coverage from your parent’s health plan
If you have a qualifying event, in most cases that will trigger a 60-day Special Enrollment Period when you can change your existing coverage or apply for a new plan.