ObamaCare Open Enrollment Period
When is Open Enrollment for ObamaCare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Other Insurance Types?
Open enrollment is the annual period in which shoppers can enroll, switch plans, and get subsidies on health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).
In general, open enrollment starts each year on November 1st and ends on January 15th. However, open enrollment may be extended each year in the federal marketplace HealthCare.Gov and/or in states running their own exchanges (see state-specific deadlines below).
If you miss open enrollment, you may not be able to enroll in coverage that qualifies for cost assistance and offers ObamaCare’s protections like the preexisting conditions protections.
Options outside of open enrollment are limited to special enrollment, short-term coverage, and Medicaid/CHIP unless you qualify for another coverage type like Medicare or employer coverage.
ObamaCare Enrollment 2024: Open enrollment for 2024 is scheduled to run from November 1, 2023, to January 15, 2024, in most states. Find out what to do if you missed the deadline in your state.
FACT: Open enrollment starts November 1 and ends January 15 each year unless otherwise noted (a 2021 permeant extension extended the previous Dec 15 deadline).
TIP: Get covered at Healthcare.Gov and see if you qualify for cost assistance.
TIP: This page is primarily about open enrollment in the individual and family private market. Other plan types, like employer-sponsored plans and Medicare, have their own open enrollment periods (see below).
Key Dates For ObamaCare Open Enrollment 2024 (the Open Enrollment Season For Plans Held in 2024)
- Wednesday, November 1, 2023. Open Enrollment begins.
- Monday, January 15, 2023: Open Enrollment ends (extensions may be granted).
- Monday, January 1, 2023: The earliest a plan purchased during open enrollment can start.
State-Specific Deadlines and Extensions for the 2023 Open Enrollment Season
States with state-based exchanges may issue extensions each year, some states have permanent extensions, and the federal government may issue extensions year. Which extensions are offered is subject to change.
Below are the state-based deadlines for 2023 for marketplace coverage under the ACA and some notes on federal deadline extensions.
Please double-check the official state-based websites and the federal marketplace HealthCare.Gov to confirm extensions each year, as some extensions are subject to change.
NOTE: The state-based deadlines below may be incomplete or subject to change (please note until official deadlines are released, we base our data on the previous year). The 2024 deadlines below are either permanent or have been confirmed on state health insurance websites.
- California: November 1st, 2023, through January 31st, 2024 (renewals start October 1st).
- Colorado: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
- Connecticut: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
- District of Columbia: November 1st, 2023, through January 31st, 2024 (uninsured can enroll anytime due to COVID public health emergency).
- Idaho: October 15th, 2023, through December 15th, 2023.
- Kentucky: November 1st, 2023, 1st through January 15th, 2024.
- Maine: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
- Maryland: November 1st, 2023, through December 15th, 2023 (has historically issued extensions).
- Massachusetts: November 1st, 2023, through January 23rd, 2024.
- Minnesota: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
- Nevada: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
- New Jersey: November 1st, 2023, through January 31st, 2024.
- New Mexico: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
- New York: November 16th, 2023, through January 31st, 2024 (residents can enroll anytime due to COVID public health emergency).
- Pennsylvania: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
- Rhode Island: November 1st, 2023, through January 31st, 2024.
- Vermont: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
- Washington: November 1st, 2023, through January 15th, 2024.
When Will Coverage Start With Extended Enrollment? Generally, if you enroll after December 15th, your coverage will start February 1st, and if you enroll after February 15th, your coverage will generally start March 1st. With that said, some states which extend enrollment will have different rules. Please check your state website for details.
Where Can I find my state’s ObamaCare website? All state websites can be found on HealthCare.Gov’s home page. When you got the site, you’ll get to pick your state. If your state has its own exchange, you’ll be taken to it.
Other states may be subject to an extension. States with state-run exchanges can issue last-minute extensions, and the federal government can also issue an extension for all states using the federal marketplace.
NOTE: This page focuses on open enrollment in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That means it focuses on Medicaid and CHIP (which can be enrolled in 365 days a year) and on enrollment for private market individual and family plans that qualify for cost assistance based on income and other factors (which must be enrolled in during each year’s annual open enrollment period). With that in mind, information on other enrollment periods (like Medicare enrollment periods and employer open enrollment periods) is also offered below.
ObamaCare Open Enrollment 2023: Getting Covered For 2023
For those looking to obtain private market individual and family plans for 2022 (either through a private insurer directly or through the federal and state marketplaces):
- For 2023 coverage, January 15th, 2023, was your last chance to get covered at Healthcare.Gov (the official health insurance marketplace, AKA health insurance exchange) without qualifying for Special Enrollment unless extensions are granted. Those in states with state-specific deadlines have until the end of that deadline.
- All individual and family plans must be obtained during open enrollment, whether the official marketplace is used or not! Those who don’t enroll during open enrollment will find their options limited.
- If you are between enrollment periods and have lost coverage for reasons other than non-payment, or if you have a life change like getting married, you may qualify for special enrollment.
- If you don’t qualify for special enrollment, don’t have coverage, and are in-between enrollment periods, then options are generally limited to short term health insurance, Medicaid, and CHIP.
Below we will cover open enrollment dates for each health insurance type, information about past open enrollment periods, and some tips and tricks for making the most out of open enrollment. We also cover getting health insurance outside of open enrollment via special enrollment and tips for avoiding the fee for not maintaining health insurance.
UPDATE on the fee for not having insurance: From 2019 forward there is no fee for not having coverage in most states. Despite this, open enrollment is still the only time of year you can get guaranteed issue health coverage and qualify for cost assistance without qualifying for a special enrollment period or another plan type.
Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare, Employer, and COBRA Annual Open Enrollment Dates and General Information
Now that you have those basics down, here is a list of key enrollment dates for Short term, Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare, Employer Coverage, COBRA, etc. We’ll cover these in detail below.
TIP: When in doubt, contact the entity responsible for the coverage type for Medicaid and CHIP, contact your state Medicaid department. For Medicare, see Medicare.gov. For employer coverage, contact your employer, etc.
- Medicaid and CHIP can be enrolled in 365 days a year.
- Short-term health insurance is also 365 days a year, but unlike the other coverage noted here short term does not protect you from the fee, does not follow all the ACA’s rules, and is not an annual contract. Learn more about short term (the only type of health insurance on this list that doesn’t count as “minimum essential coverage“).
- Medicare has two annual enrollment periods, one annual disenrollment period, and one initial enrollment period. Each period has unique rules, so make sure you understand all the implications of enrolling, not enrolling, or changing plans. You can enroll in Part A, B, or D (either directly or via a Part C plan, AKA an Advantage Plan) during your Initial Enrollment period, which is the 7 months surrounding your 65th birthday. General enrollment for Part A and B is Jan 1st – Mar 31 each year. The Annual Election Period (to opt-in, change, or opt-out of Part C and D) is Oct 15 – Dec 7, and the Special Disenrollment Period (to switch from Part C to A, B, and/or D, to Enroll in Part D, or to disenroll in C or D) is Jan 1st – Feb 14. There is more to it than that, so see: Medicare Enrollment Dates. TIP: For Medicare, you must have Part A or Part C Advantage (which contains Part A) to avoid the fee for not having health insurance.
- Employer coverage also has annual enrollment dates and an initial enrollment period. If you are hired at full-time, and your employer offers coverage, you’ll have to confirm your coverage, and then you’ll have up to a 90 day waiting period (from your start date) before your coverage starts (your employer will coordinate this). If you become full-time after that initial period or switch to part-time, things get complex; see measurement periods.
- For COBRA, if you are entitled to elect COBRA continuation coverage, you must be given an election period of at least 60 days (starting on the later of the date you are furnished the election notice or the date you would lose coverage). You can generally choose between COBRA or special enrollment but must do so ASAP. Learn more about COBRA.
TIP: Other health insurance types include TRICARE (and other types of federal employee coverage) and VA coverage. Learn more about TRICARE enrollment. learn more about VA enrollment.
What is Open Enrollment?
With all the most important information covered the rest of the page will expand on definitions and offer more insight.
Open enrollment is the only time of year you can apply for cost assistance, switch plans, or enroll in a major medical plan that counts as minimum essential coverage in the individual and family market without qualifying for a special enrollment period. This is true both inside and outside the health insurance marketplace.
Other health insurance types like employer coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP have unique enrollment periods, which can be found below.
Historic Open Enrollment Dates and Other Key Facts
Each year there is an annual open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace and all other private coverage for individuals and families.
- For 2014 coverage, the open enrollment period was October 1st, 2013 – March 31st, 2014
- Open enrollment for 2015 ran from November 15th, 2014 – February 15th, 2015.
- Open Enrollment for 2016 ran from November 1st, 2015 – January 31, 2016.
- Open Enrollment for 2017 ran from November 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017.
- Open Enrollment for 2018 ran from November 1, 2017 – December 15, 2017 (extended to January 2018).
- For 2019 forward, open enrollment dates are expected to go from November 1st – December 15th (this is subject to change; although Nov 1 – Dec 15 is the standard open enrollment period moving forward).
- Open enrollment was then extended to January 15th in 2021. Also, many states now have their own deadlines.
- Open enrollment is the only time that you can enroll in a plan; change plans, or apply for cost assistance unless you qualify for a special enrollment period. All private health plans share the Health Insurance Marketplace’s open enrollment period; other types of plans like employer-based coverage, Medicaid, and Medicare, have unique enrollment periods.
- The only way to get subsidized insurance is by enrolling in the health insurance marketplace.
- Make sure to verify your plan and cost assistance each year to avoid auto-renewal mistakes and make sure you get the right cost assistance. Not all plans auto-renew. You MUST verify your renewal or get new coverage during open enrollment!
- If you miss the deadline to sign up for health insurance you may still have options.
- You can apply for special enrollment until open enrollment starts each year, so don’t hesitate to contact your health insurance marketplace outside of open enrollment if you have lost coverage for any reason.
- Healthcare.gov is the official Health Insurance Marketplace.
Many different types of health insurance count as minimum essential coverage, and each has its own unique enrollment period. Let’s review the open enrollment periods for ObamaCare’s health insurance marketplace, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP, job-based coverage, and off-marketplace private insurance plans.
ObamaCare Open Enrollment Period Definition
ObamaCare’s open enrollment period is an annual period of time during which you can enroll in a plan inside or outside the marketplace, switch plans, get cost assistance, and apply for Medicaid through the marketplace.
The only way to get major medical insurance, known as minimum essential coverage (the type of coverage you’ll need to avoid the fee) is to enroll in a plan during open enrollment or by qualifying for a special enrollment period. This is true both inside and outside the marketplace since insurers have unofficially adopted ObamaCare’s enrollment periods for all major medical coverage.
NOTE: The past open enrollment periods are discussed in detail below.
What Happens if I Missed ObamaCare’s Open Enrollment?
If you miss open enrollment in ObamaCare, you won’t be able to sign up again until the next open enrollment period without qualifying for a special enrollment period.
Special Enrollment Periods
A special enrollment period is a time outside the open enrollment period when you and your family can sign up for health insurance. Most types of health insurance have special enrollment periods for certain qualifying life events, but all types of health insurance have different criteria. below are the rules for ObamaCare’s special enrollment period:
You may qualify for a special enrollment period of 60 days following certain life events that involve a change in family status (for example, marriage or birth of a child) or loss of other health coverage.
You can’t buy insurance inside or outside the Marketplace until the next open enrollment period unless you qualify for a special enrollment period. Job-based plans generally allow special enrollment periods of 30 days.
ObamaCare Qualifying Events
The following life events will generally qualify you for a special enrollment period under ObamaCare.
- Getting married
- Adopting or giving birth to a child
- Permanently moving to a new area that offers different health plan options.
- Losing other health coverage (for example due to a job loss, divorce, loss of eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP, expiration of COBRA coverage, or a health plan being decertified). Note: Voluntarily quitting your health insurance or being terminated for not paying your premiums is not considered loss of coverage. Losing coverage that is not minimum essential coverage is also not considered loss of coverage.)
- For people already enrolled in Marketplace coverage, having a change in income or household status that affects eligibility for tax credits or cost-sharing reductions will generally qualify you for a special enrollment period.
ObamaCare Enrollment Advice
During ObamaCare’s open enrollment, you need to create an account through your state’s marketplace, choose a plan, and enroll before the deadline. The verification process during account creation can take time. Beyond that, choosing the right plan and making sure you are enrolled can be time-consuming too. Do yourself a favor and give yourself time to solve problems that may arise. Don’t leave the process until the last minute. Make sure you finish the process of enrolling in ObamaCare before the end of each year’s open enrollment deadline.
Private Health Insurance Enrollment Periods
While there are no official enrollment periods for private health insurance purchased outside of the marketplace, insurers have adopted the marketplace open enrollment model.
Many individual and family plans could be purchased at any time before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Due to the new rights and protections, insurers have adopted a new model, which subjects individual and family plans to the same enrollment periods set forth by the ACA. No wording in the law makes it mandatory, but this practice has been adopted to avoid sick people going without coverage or waiting to sign up until they are sick. Most plans found in the interim will be short-term health insurance options, which won’t help you avoid the fee for not having insurance and can’t be subsided under the Affordable Care Act, but they will give you whatever health insurance is in the contract you sign.
Even if you missed open enrollment for ObamaCare, you can still buy some private health insurance plans outside of the marketplace, but many won’t help you to avoid the per month fee for not having insurance.
Medicaid and CHIP Open Enrollment
Medicaid and CHIP can be enrolled in at any time, and that coverage can start retroactively up to two months. If you want to make life easier and sign up for Medicaid or CHIP through the marketplace, you will have to sign up during open enrollment. If you miss open enrollment in the marketplace you have other Medicaid sign up options.
ObamaCare Open Enrollment Small Business
ObamaCare’s open enrollment for small businesses originally started during 2014 open enrollment (Oct 1st, 2013 – March 31st, 2014). However, the SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) marketplace that allows businesses with 50 or less full-time equivalent employees to enroll didn’t start until open enrollment 2015 (Nov 15th 2014 – Feb 15th 2015). Beginning in 2016, small businesses with between 50-100 full-time equivalent employees can use the marketplace in states that don’t allow this sooner. Small businesses can still get small business tax credits through an agent retroactively since 2010, and moving forward each year until they can use the marketplace to apply for tax credits.
Learn more about the Small Business Health Options Program.
Open Enrollment For Job-Based Insurance
The open enrollment period for job-based insurance is different for each employer. Open enrollment typically occurs in the fall, but not always. Your employer should notify you about your open enrollment period.
Your employer will have a special enrollment period for qualifying life events and new hires in job-based insurance just as you would have in the marketplace. Contact your Human Resources department for employer-specific details.
If you lose your job you can switch to COBRA or to a marketplace plan. During open enrollment, you can switch from your COBRA coverage or employer-based coverage by simply enrolling in a marketplace plan. If you lose your employer-based coverage or your COBRA is ending outside an open enrollment period, you can switch to a marketplace plan via a special enrollment period.
Medicare Open Enrollment
For most people, the initial enrollment period for Medicare Part A and Part B starts 3 months before their 65th birthday and ends 3 months after their 65th birthday. After initial open enrollment, there are two open enrollments each year during which you can switch your plan or add to it. The first general enrollment period goes from January to March with coverage starting July 1st.
Individuals who have Medicare Part A and Part B may enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Election Period (AEP), the second enrollment period that lasts from October 15 through December 7. Individuals who were eligible for Medicare Part A or enrolled in Part B as of the effective date of coverage can enroll in a Part D plan or switch Part D plans during this time. Individuals can also enroll in a Part D plan if they had qualified for a Special Election Period (SEP).
In addition, those insured under Medicare have from January 1 through February 14 to un-enroll from their plan and return to traditional Medicare. A Medicare Advantage enrollee, however, cannot switch from his or her existing Medicare Advantage plan to a different plan during this period.
Learn more about Medicare open enrollment periods.
TIP: Remember, although the basics won’t change, specific dates are subject to change.
TIP: If you have another insurance type that we haven’t covered on this page either contact us and let us know so we can cover it, or simply ask your plan provider for specifics on open enrollment dates.
When Is Open Enrollment For Health Insurance?