Open Enrollment for 2024 is here, but for the uninitiated this may bring about many questions. In this article, we’ll break down most essential knowledge you need to get your health insurance sorted out for the following year (and beyond)!
What is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment (abbreviated as OEP) is the single time of the year when you can purchase a new health insurance plan, or change the one you have. If you don’t acquire health insurance during this OEP, you will not be able to purchase it until next year’s Open Enrollment unless you experience a qualifying life event.
This is crucial: as mentioned above, Open Enrollment is also important if you already have a health insurance plan. It’s the one time of year you can make any adjustments to it.
When is Open Enrollment?
For the majority of states, Open Enrollment starts on November 1st and ends January 16th. The start date of the health insurance plan you purchase depends on when specifically within this period you apply.
Several states have deadlines that extend past the standard January 16th one. To check the exact deadline for your state, make sure to keep reading below.
What is the purpose of Open Enrollment?
If Open Enrollment didn’t exist, people would mostly likely only sign up for health insurance when they get sick or injured.
Open Enrollment also restricts when you can buy health insurance to help insurance companies maintain balance. Constraining the time period in which clients can purchase health insurance makes the amount of money coming in and out of insurance companies more controlled and relatively balanced. Health insurance companies can then maintain a balanced pool of both sick and healthy people, which keeps the marketplace stable.
Who does Open Enrollment apply to?
Open Enrollment applies to any American who is between the ages of 18 and 64, and who isn’t already covered by Medicaid, an employer, their family members, or Veterans Affairs.
Which states have extended enrollment deadlines?
As mentioned above, some states have an extended deadline past the usual January 15th in which people are allowed to purchase new health insurance plans. These are as follows:
Idaho: November 1st - December 15th
Kentucky and Maine: November 1st - January 16th
Massachusetts: November 1st - January 23rd
New Jersey, California, New York, and Rhode Island: November 1st - January 31st
What if I already enrolled in a plan last year?
If you already purchased a health insurance plan last year, you may be automatically re-enrolled for next year. But be careful, insurance companies often alter their plans a bit from year to year. If you opt for the automatic re-enrollment without reviewing your coverage during OEP, you might see an increase in your monthly premium, your doctor may stop accepting your plan, and any prescriptions you need may no longer be covered.
You should make it a habit to review your plan every year with your insurance agent during OEP, and while you’re at it, check for new plans that are available for you. There could always be a better deal with more coverage, but you’ll never know if you ignore Open Enrollment.
Do I have to sign up for all types of insurance during Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment only applies to health insurance.
However, plenty of people take the opportunity to also enroll themselves and their loved ones for dental, vision, disability, life, and accident insurance during OEP, and you should too!
What if I can’t afford health insurance?
Subsidies, which in essence are financial assistance, are offered to help people afford health insurance. They come in two forms: premium tax credit, which you don’t have to pay back, and cost-sharing subsidies. Contact your insurance agent to determine if you qualify.
Where do I purchase health insurance?
You can buy a health insurance plan directly from the federal or state exchanges, but as hinted at throughout this entire article, working with an insurance agent makes the process a whole lot easier.
Here at Comfort Insurance & Finances, our agents are dedicated to making the process of enrolling you and your loved ones for insurance as streamlined as possible. All the while finding the best insurance plans for your specific situation.
We do all the hard work and research, you’ll make the final decision.