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Healthcare Defined: “Open Enrollment Period”

Cropped SingleCare logo By | August 3, 2016

Sometimes, healthcare can seem like a whole different language. In this series, we break down some common healthcare terms into plain English.

Open Enrollment Period (noun) — A yearly time period, usually in Q4, when Americans can enroll in a health insurance plan for the upcoming year, either on their state’s health insurance exchange or marketplace or through their employer, whether they’ve had insurance the year before or not.

Every October, health insurance is highlight of conversation at work and on the news.  People are asking themselves, “Which insurance plan will fit my life best?” This isn’t a coincidence. Once a year, Americans have a chance to re-evaluate their health insurance plan or sign-up for one during Open Enrollment Period, which usually lasts from November until the end of January.

What does this mean for you? Let’s break it down.

You have to renew your health insurance plan every year. During Open Enrollment, you have to decide whether to stick with your current health insurance plan or shop for a new one. Note that many health insurance companies can have changes in their plans’ offerings around provider network, co-pays, co-insurance and drug coverage, so even if you are renewing last year’s plan, you should review the fine print to make sure any updates made align with your wellness journey.

Since Obamacare was implemented in 2010, Open Enrollment Period has transformed into a national event as each citizen, employed or not, can get health insurance. This year, from November 1 until January 31, 2017, millions of Americans will sign-up or a renew a plan via their state’s health insurance marketplace.

More specifically, if you sign-up for a plan:

  • Between November 1, 2016, and December 15, 2016, your coverage will start January 1, 2017.
  • Between December 16, 2016, and January 15, 2017, your coverage will start February 1, 2017.
  • Between January 16 and January 31, 2017, your coverage will start March 1, 2017.

If you receive health insurance from your employer or spouse, the Open Enrollment Period might differ from the federal timeline. But usually your employer will renew their insurance in the third or fourth quarter. Be sure to ask your HR representative to confirm.

Nevertheless, all Americans should mark their calendars with Open Enrollment Period, as there can be fines for not having health insurance. And, if you miss the Open Enrollment Period, you’ll have to wait for a year to sign-up unless you qualify Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Either way, at SingleCare, we believe in streamlining both your patient experience and day-to-day life, overall. Members don’t have to worry about an enrollment period or deadlines — they can shop around for healthcare services at rates up to 50 percent less than our competitors 24/7/365, regardless of their insurance coverage. What’s more, you don’t have to pay anything to sign-up. You can become a SingleCare member today.