ATTENTION: Open Enrollment Season is upon us; the time of year when you can enroll in a health insurance plan. For 2016 coverage, this Open Enrollment Period is November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016.
Here are some important windows that you want to be aware of:
- November 1, 2015:
Open Enrollment Starts – First day you can enroll in a 2016 insurance plan and coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2016.
- December 15, 2015:
Last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage to start January 1, 2016.
- January 1, 2016:
This is the start of your 2016 coverage starts for those who enroll or change plans by December 15.
- January 15, 2016:
Last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage to start February 1, 2016
- January 31, 2016:
This is the period when your 2016 Open Enrollment ends. Enrollments or changes between January 16 to January 31 take effect March 1, 2016.
BE AWARE THAT if you miss this window you cannot enroll until the Marketplace re-opens in November 2016 unless you have a special “life event” such as having a baby, getting married or losing your job.
The annual open enrollment period is most important for individuals and families who are not subject to an exemption or who do not already have qualifying coverage, such as employer-sponsored health insurance. If you have employee health insurance benefits, you do not necessarily need to enroll in a new plan during the open enrollment period.
Instead, you can choose to keep your employer’s group plan – if you do, make sure you pay attention to any open enrollment period your employer announces for your employer’s plan.
If you happen to miss the Annual Open Enrollment period, you may be able to purchase a short-term health insurance plan, but these won’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act and your plan’s benefits will likely not be as comprehensive. This could be a last resort but give you some time of coverage or benefits if needed.
During the open enrollment period, individuals and families can shop for plans, including those that qualify for subsidies, at government-run health insurance marketplaces, such as www.healthcare.gov , or private-sector health insurance websites such as 1800health.com.