Open Enrollment Period (OEP)

What Is the Open Enrollment Period?

The Open Enrollment Period, or OEP, refers to the yearly period when people can enroll in a health insurance plan for the following year without restrictions. 

Unless you have a qualifying life event, the Open Enrollment Period is the only time you have each year to change or add health insurance coverage, unless you choose to enroll in a private health insurance plan.

Qualifying Life Events

  • Having or adopting a baby
  • Turning 26 years old
  • Losing a job
  • Getting married or divorced
  • Leaving jail or prison

Open Enrollment Dates and Deadlines

Open enrollment begins and ends on specific dates each year. These are important dates to note so that you do not miss out on getting the health insurance coverage you need. 

For the 2018 plan year, the Open Enrollment Period will begin on November 1, 2017 and end on December 15, 2017. If you sign up for a plan during this time period, the plan will be effective beginning on January 1, 2018. 

However, if you have insurance through your own employer and not through the Marketplace, your Open Enrollment Period may have different set dates. Be sure to check with your employer so you don’t miss out on your opportunity to re-up your health insurance plan.

Special Enrollment Period 

Who Is Eligible for a Special Enrollment Period?

If you have had a qualifying life event, such as those previously mentioned, you are eligible for the Special Enrollment Period. 

How Long Is the Special Enrollment Period?

The Special Enrollment Period lasts for 60 days after the qualifying life event. You can add or change your healthcare coverage during this specific time period even if you missed the Open Enrollment Period.

What Happens If You Miss the OEP?

If, for whatever reason, you missed the Open Enrollment Period, you will not be able to get coverage through the Marketplace for the following calendar year. You can wait until the next Open Enrollment Period to sign up for health insurance for the year after. Missing one year does not preclude you from signing up for the next year, but you will have to pay the tax penalty for the year that you did not have health coverage. 

You have two other options if you miss the Open Enrollment Period:

Look at the year ahead. Do you anticipate any qualifying life events? If so, be sure to take advantage of the 60-day Special Enrollment Period. You will only be required to pay taxes based on the time that you did not have insurance.  

Consider alternatives to traditional healthcare coverage. You may be able to get catastrophic or short-term health insurance. However, for these types of health plans you will still pay taxes for not having full healthcare coverage.  You can sign up for full coverage through a private health insurance provider which will exempt you from paying the tax penalty. 

If you have missed the Open Enrollment Period, sign up for health insurance by talking to one of our agents 858-771-4087 or enter your zip code here!