What is Open Enrollment?

You may be hearing the term “open enrollment.” Toward the end of the calendar year, this term becomes especially relevant. So, what does it mean?

Open enrollment is the period of time during which you can enroll in a health insurance plan. Depending on where you get your health insurance, this time period may or may not fall at the end of the year. Generally, it is the only time of year you can enroll in new coverage or change your existing coverage. Exceptions may be made in the case of life changes like marriage, divorce, or childbirth.

If you get your insurance through the Affordable Care Act, you are buying insurance through the health exchange. When you hear the term Obamacare, it refers to this type of insurance. Open enrollment has just begun for Obamacare. To enroll in this health insurance for the 2018 calendar year, you must sign up between November 1, 2017 and December 15, 2017. You can do this through healthcare.gov or through your state marketplace.

If you get your insurance through your employer, ask your employer when open enrollment is. You likely will have enrolled in the insurance plan when you started working for the company. After that, there is usually one month out of the year during which you can re-enroll for another year or make changes to your policy. Ask your employer, typically the human resources department, when the enrollment period is and what forms you will need to complete.

Other health insurance options may not have specific open enrollment periods. For example, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, allow you to apply at any time.

Enrollment for Medicare is based on age. You can enroll for Medicare at age 65 years. The enrollment period begins 3 months before your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after your 65th birthday.

Although the fate of Obamacare is currently in question, as of this writing, open enrollment is open. If you plan to use this health insurance, be sure to sign up during open enrollment. The deadline is December 15.

Do you want more guidance as you choose which health insurance plan is best for you and your family? Get my book Easy Healthcare: Choose Your Health Insurance. In it, I walk through everything you need to know, including what kinds of health plans may be available to you, what information you should gather before choosing a plan, and some of the terms you will want to know.

What is the Deadline for Enrolling in Obamacare?

mom with kid at doctorHopefully by now you have health insurance in place for 2016. If not and you’re enrolling in Obamacare, sign up as soon as you can.

It is currently too late to enroll in health insurance and have it be effective January 1st. Makes sense, since we are already a few days into January.

You can, however, still sign up to have health insurance for the remainder of the year. The deadline and absolute latest you can sign up for Obamacare is January 31st. And if you wait until that later part of January, your health insurance won’t actually be effective until March 1st, so keep that in mind. If you enroll in Obamacare by January 15th, your coverage will begin as early as February 1st.

So if Obamacare is your choice, enroll now. The sooner the better.

Curious about what Obamacare will cover? Watch this short video.

Want to know even more about Obamacare? Check out my book Easy Healthcare: Obamacare, available as either a paperback book or an ebook.



Helpful Healthcare Links: April 30, 2015

KATHMANDU, NEPAL - CIRCA DEC, 2013: Unidentified child and his pOur helpful health care links focus on two hot topics in healthcare this week– An update on the devastating earthquake in Nepal and an what it looks like when a healthcare record is hijacked. Both are worth your time. And, as always, if you ever come across a healthcare story that you think merits more attention, please send it our way!

Inside Nepal’s Next Challenge: Overflowing Hospitals

Hospitals throughout Nepal are flooded with patients, with thousands in need of care for acute injuries after a massive earthquake that the country’s leader said may have killed up to 10,000.

A Day in the Life of a Stolen Healthcare Record

The process of divining the provenance of stolen healthcare records. These records typically are processed or handled by a gauntlet of third party firms, most of which have no direct relationship with the patient or customer ultimately harmed by the breach.


P.S.–TODAY is your last day to sign up for the ObamaCare Enrollment Extension!

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HealthSpin’s Easy Healthcare: Choose Your Health Insurance gives you the practical steps you can take to choose the right insurance plan for you and your family.