Enrollment in a medical health insurance plan happens during open enrollment. This is the period of time when health insurance companies allow you to either enroll in a health plan or change you current health plan. If you apply for and are eligible for health insurance during an open enrollment period. The health plan has to insure you.

Having an open enrollment period that is limited protects the health insurance companies from people who try to play games with the system.  If you could switch plans or get health insurance anytime, then why pay for it all year? You would just wait until you got sick to get health insurance.  Doing this increases the risk to insurance companies financially which would then cause higher health insurance premiums for everyone.

There are a few types of insurance that do not use open enrollment:

Medicaid, which is the insurance for state social welfare low income people, does not limit enrollments to a certain time of year. If qualified you can enroll any time.

CHIP is the Children’s Health Insurance Program for children from low-income families.  This program also does not limit enrollment to a certain time of year.

Travel Insurance is also not subject to an open enrollment period. These plans are usually bought to cover sudden or unexpected medical issues that could arise when travelling out of the country. It also provides for problems such as lost baggage and flight cancellation

It is important, for health based insurance, that you know when open enrollment is and enroll in the health plan that best suits your needs and the needs of your family.