Open enrollment period is an annual time period during which you can enroll in a health insurance plan. If you want to switch plans, apply for Medicaid or get cost assistance, this is the time in which you can do it. If you don’t sign up during this time you will likely not be able to sign up for health insurance until it is time for the next open enrollment period.

If you apply for health insurance, and you are eligible, during an open enrollment period then it is the responsibility of the health plan to insure you. It cannot use underwriting nor can it require evidence of insurability. Both of those could make it more difficult to obtain health insurance.

Open Enrollment Periods

Medicare, job-based health insurance, and Affordable Care Act all have periods of open enrollment.  Open enrollment times vary depending on the health insurance source. Medicare open enrollment is from October 15, thru December 7 every year. Job based health insurance has open enrollments that are set by the employer. These open enrollments can b at any time of the year. Most large employers try to schedule their enrollment period in the fall so that any new coverage will begin on January first of the following year.

Special Enrollment

The majority of insurance sources that use a system of open enrollment also have an exception that will allow you to enroll in insurance outside of open enrollment if there are extenuating circumstances.

This is known as a special enrollment period. It allows you to sign up if you lost your other insurance due to job loss, you relocated, you were divorced, became widowed or aged off a parents plan.