Dates and Deadlines For the 2020 Open Enrollment Season Under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)

ObamaCare’s Open Enrollment period for 2020 health plans started November 1, 2019 and ended December 15, 2019 in most states. Plans sold during Open Enrollment start as early as January 1, 2020.[1]

Open enrollment is the only time of year you can enroll in a health plan, switch plans, or re-enroll in your current plan the in individual and family market. If you miss open enrollment, your only options are limited to special enrollmentshort term health insurance, employer-based coverage, MedicareMedicaid, and CHIP.

Get covered at Healthcare.Gov or through a marketplace approved broker like the ones featured on our site.

TIP: Only plans sold on the health insurance marketplace qualify for cost assistance.

TIP: If you purchase a plan after Dec 15th, for example in a state the offers extensions, your plan likely won’t start by Jan 1st. Please make sure to check your start date. Your plan starts after you pay you make your first payment!

Key Dates For Open Enrollment 2020 (the Open Enrollment Season For Plans Held in 2020)

  • Thursday November 1, 2019. Open Enrollment begins.
  • Saturday December 15, 2019: Open Enrollment ends (extensions may be granted).
  • Wednesday January 1, 2020: The earliest a plan purchased during open enrollment can start.

NOTE: Enrollment dates are subject to change each year. The federal government and/or some or all states may extend enrollment. We will post extensions below if and when any are announced.

Open Enrollment Extensions for 2020: Some states have extended deadlines. Meanwhile, people are getting until Dec 18 to sign up in states that use Healthcare.Gov if they had trouble signing up by the 15th (see our page on the Dec 18 extension to learn more). If you didn’t get covered yet, make sure to looking into deadline extensions!

State Specific Deadlines and Extensions for the 2019 – 2020 Open Enrollment Season

States with state-based exchanges may issue extensions each year, some states have permanent extensions, and the federal government my issue extensions year. Which extensions are offered is subject to change.

Below are the state-based deadlines for 2020 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.

  • California: October 15, 2019 through January 31, 2020. Last day for coverage that starts Jan 1, 2020 is Dec 14, 2019, otherwise coverage starts no later than Feb 1, 2020. This a permanent extension.
  • Colorado: October 15, 2019 through January 15, 2020. Last day for coverage that starts Jan 1, 2020 is Dec 14, 2019, otherwise coverage starts no later than Feb 1, 2020. This a permanent extension.
  • Connecticut: Has a history of issuing extensions during open enrollment.
  • Idaho: Has a history of issuing extensions during open enrollment, although they haven’t extended open enrollment in recent years.
  • Maryland: Has a history of issuing extensions during open enrollment, although they haven’t extended open enrollment in recent years.
  • Massachusetts: October 15, 2019 through January 23, 2020.
  • Nevada: Has a history of issuing extensions during open enrollment, although no extension has been granted as of writing this for 2020.
  • New York: October 15, 2019 through January 31, 2020.
  • Rhode Island: October 15, 2019 through December 31, 2020. This extension is subject to change each year.
  • Vermont: Has a history of issuing extensions during open enrollment, although no extension has been granted as of writing this for 2020.
  • Washington: Has a history of issuing extensions during open enrollment, although no extension has been granted as of writing this for 2020.
  • Washington DC: October 15, 2019 through January 31, 2020. This a permanent extension.

Other states may be subject to extension in 2020 as well. States with state-run exchanges can issue last minute extensions, and the federal government can issue an extension for all states using the federal marketplace as well.

Key Facts About Open Enrollment 2020

  • If you want to keep it simple, you can sign up at the official health insurance marketplace HealthCare.Gov and find out if you qualify for cost assistance now (those who live in states who use state-based exchanges will be redirected to the proper site).
  • Open enrollment is the only time you can shop for health plans in the individual and family market without qualifying for special enrollment.
  • To qualify for special enrollment you must have a Qualify Life Event (QLE) such as losing employer-based coverage.
  • If you want to enroll, re-enroll, or change plans for 2020 you must do it during open enrollment.
  • Comprehensive health coverage that offers the benefits and protections of the Affordable Care Act can only be sold during open enrollment or during special enrollment.
  • Only plans sold on the health insurance marketplace qualify for cost assistance (NOTE: a private broker can help you choose a marketplace plan).
  • If you miss open enrollment, your only options are Short Term Health Insurance, employer-based coverage, MedicareMedicaid, and CHIP. Any or all of those may not be a an option for some, as all generally have additional requirements for eligibility.
  • If you don’t enroll in a plan during open enrollment, you won’t owe the fee due to the fee for not getting coverage being reduced to $0 at a federal level since 2019 (some states have state-based mandates). However, you will likely miss you opportunity to get guaranteed issue comprehensive coverage in the individual and family market if you don’t shop during open enrollment, as only plans sold during open enrollment are required to meet the standards and offer the benefits, rights, and protections of the ACA.
  • Medicare has a unique open enrollment period as do other types of health insurance sold outside the private individual and family market. If you qualify for Medicare, you don’t have to worry about ObamaCare for yourself (although you are still responsible for ensuring your tax family gets covered if you are the head-of-household). Learn more about ObamaCare and Medicare.

You can learn all about open enrollment here. Learn more about what to do if you miss the deadline here. See our main ObamaCareFacts page for more details.

NOTE: Enrollment dates are subject to change each year. The federal government and/or some or all states may extend enrollment. We will post extensions below if and when any are announced.

Additional Advice About Open Enrollment 2020

Below are a few additional points to consider.

  • In the past open enrollment in the federal marketplace HealthCare.Gov has been extended. Despite this, one should never count on extensions. We advise shopping early to avoid missing the official deadline. If things change, we’ll make sure to keep you updated.
  • If you qualify for cost assistance, think carefully about how much you take up front in Advanced Premium Tax Credits. Cost assistance is based on household income and family size as compared to the Federal Poverty Level. If you project your income inaccurately, you may end up owing back tax credits on form 8962 at tax time. This is especially true if you or a tax filer in your household gains or loses income. Medicaid and out-of-pocket assistance don’t require repayment.
  • We advise those looking for coverage to shop on their state’s official marketplace or HealthCare.gov (in states that use the federal marketplace). This will ensure shoppers know all their options regarding cost assistance and get a major medical plan that counts as minimum essential coverage. Shoppers can also contact an online or in-person broker (like the ones featured on our site) for help selecting a marketplace health plan or off-marketplace plan. In some cases, shoppers can also go directly to an insurer although this may require going directly to an insurer’s office, as insurers are encouraging shoppers to use the exchange. Learn more about shopping for private health plans outside the marketplace.
  • See also maximums and deductibles and HSA info for plans. An HSA is an excellent way to save tax dollars for those who have enough money to fund them.

BOTTOM LINE: Start your journey at HealthCare.gov. Make sure you are not only signed up but enrolled in a plan by December 15th, 2019. This is the deadline for all states if you want coverage that starts by Jan 1st, 2020. We suggest paying careful attention to cost sharing and networks when shopping for a plan. When in doubt, a Silver Plan that qualifies for an HSA is typically a safe bet. Get more tips for shopping for getting the best health plan.

Citations

  1. Dates and deadlines for 2020 health insurance. HealthCare.Gov.