When is Health Insurance Open Enrollment? Dates to Remember

The end of the year is a busy time, and not just because of the holidays. It’s also when open enrollment takes place. This is the period of time when people decide which health insurance plan to enroll in for the following year. It’s an important decision, so it’s not something you want to forget about. Exactly when your open enrollment period occurs depends on how you get your health care.

Marketplace Open Enrollment

If you purchase your health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, your open enrollment period for 2020 plans will start November 1, 2019, and end December 15, 2019. Coverage for the plan you select will start January 1, 2020.

Some states may have extended open enrollment periods. However, if you wait to enroll, your coverage may not start on January 1. Check with your state’s health insurance site for details.

Medicare Open Enrollment

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period starts on October 15 and ends on December 7. During this time, Medicare enrollees can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare, or from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan. Beneficiaries can also switch their prescription drug plan during this time, although many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage. Coverage for the selected plan will begin on January 1.

Beneficiaries who enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and are unhappy with it will have another chance during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. During this time, people can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare. However, people cannot switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage during this time. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period lasts from January 1 to March 31.

Other Open Enrollment Periods

If you get your health insurance through your employer, your employer will set the dates for the open enrollment period. This will usually happen around October, November or December, with coverage starting January 1.

The length of the open enrollment period can vary. While some provide ample time, others are only a couple of weeks long. Make sure you don’t miss it. Talk to your employer about your open enrollment dates.

Enrolling Outside Open Enrollment

You may be allowed to enroll in a health insurance plan outside the open enrollment period. Many programs have special enrollment periods that are based on life events.

For example, a special enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace lasts for 60 days and can be triggered by getting married, moving to a new ZIP code, having a baby, getting divorced, losing job-based coverage and other qualifying events. 

Medicare enrollees may also qualify for a special enrollment period under certain circumstances, such as losing job-based coverage, moving, qualifying for Medicaid, being diagnosed with a condition that qualifies you from a Special Needs Plan, and other qualifying circumstances.  Additionally, when you turn 65 and age into Medicare, you have an initial enrollment period that lasts for the seven months around your birthday. You can apply for Medicaid

Sources
  • https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/dates-and-deadlines/

  • https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan/special-circumstances-special-enrollment-periods

  • https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/joining-a-health-or-drug-plan

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