Open enrollment is the period during which you are allowed to sign up for a health insurance policy or change your existing health insurance policy.

It is a definite duration that comes every year, and if you miss to sign up for health insurance during the open enrollment, you probably cannot sign up for it until the next open enrollment period with the exception of qualifying events.

Some examples of qualifying events are: losing involuntarily other health insurance coverage due to losing a job or aging off a parent’s health plan, moving out of your old plan’s service area, getting married, getting divorced, or having a new baby.

After seeing unanticipated events in 2020, more people are seeking ways to get financially secured when it comes to paying medical bills. Thus, the open enrollment period is something that everyone must be aware of –to sign up for a health insurance policy.

What Are Different Open Enrollment Health Insurance Types?

There are various commonly-preferred types of open enrollment health insurance, including:

  • Medicare
  • Job-based health insurance
  • Individual Market Health Insurance, such as coverage that people seek for themselves instead of getting it from their employer


If we talk about Medicare, the open enrollment usually runs from October 15 to December 7 each year; however, the date may vary.

It also facilitates a separate open enrollment period from January 1 to March 31 (the dates may vary) every year for people who already have Medicare Advantage.

It is important to remember that Medicare open enrollment periods don’t apply to Medigap plans.

Job-Based Health Insurance

Job-based health insurance open enrollment periods are typically set by your employers and, therefore, may happen at any time of the year. It is common to see that employers have their open enrollment period in autumn so that the new coverage begins on January 1 of the next year.

On the other hand, some employers choose to have a health plan year that doesn’t align with the calendar year.

Individual Market Health Insurance

When it comes to individual market health insurance (on and off-exchange), they generally run from November 1 to December 15 in most states. This schedule of open enrollment is used by – an exchange plan used in 38 states as of 2020 (that will reduce to 36 in 2021 as Pennsylvania and New Jersey will run their own exchange platforms).

The District of Columbia and other 12 states (14 states in 2021) provide more flexibility with open enrollment health insurance schedules and most of them offer longer enrollment windows.

What’s more, DC, Colorado, and California have increased their open enrollment windows permanently and some other state-run exchanges have announced extensions to their open enrollment period for 2021.

Native Americans enjoy more privilege as they can enroll in individual market health plans through the exchange year-round.

Are there any health insurance policies that don’t use open enrollment?

Yes, there are a few exceptions, for instance, Medicaid, CHIP, Travel Insurance, and Short-term Health Insurance. Some of the supplemental insurance products also fall in this category.

If you also want to buy a health insurance policy and don’t know about the open enrollment period, feel free to contact a reputable health insurance consultant in your area.


Get your Free Quote Now