What does “open enrollment” mean for health insurance?


Open enrollment is a general term for health insurance that describes the period in which you can sign up for a plan without qualifying for a special enrollment period.

The window in which you can enroll differs by health insurance type.

For individuals and families buying coverage through a private insurer or through the health insurance marketplace healthcare.gov, open enrollment is Nov 1 - Dec 15 each year in most states.

For other coverage types, it works a bit differently, but in all cases it is an annual period each year where you can enroll and make changes to your plan.

If you don't sign up during open enrollment, you'll need to qualify for a special enrollment period. Also, there is a unique enrollment period when you first get hired or turn full time for employer coverage or when you first become eligible for Medicare for Medicare called an initial enrollment period.

Make sure to understand what enrollment periods you have for your coverage type and take advantage of them to ensure you get coverage, qualify for assistance, and in some cases like with Medicare part C and D, avoid fees.

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