The open enrollment period for the 2019 plan year begins November 1, 2018 and ends December 15, 2018. Consumers looking for coverage to begin on January 1, 2018 must enroll by December 15, 2018. People experiencing life events that change their circumstances during the year, such as childbirth or job loss, should review our special enrollment period article.
Enrollment into an on-exchange qualified health plan can be performed through a health exchange marketplace, an insurance company that sells plans on an exchange, or an insurance broker that is qualified to sell plans on the exchange.
After the end of the open enrollment period, most consumers lacking health insurance coverage will be locked out of the individual insurance market until the beginning of the next open enrollment period. These consumers will not be able to get effective coverage under a qualified health plan from the individual insurance market until January 1, 2019 at the earliest, but before that time they can still enroll in other kinds of off-exchange insurance such as short-term or large group plans. However short-term insurance plans do not qualify as creditable coverage, so short- term plan enrollees may still face a tax penalty for not being enrolled in a qualified health plan.
The tax penalty for individuals not enrolled in qualified health plans in 2016 is the greater of 2.5% of annual household income or $695 per adult1. In 2017, the flat fee will be adjusted based on inflation; the penalty based on annual household income will remain 2.5%. See our tax penalty article for more information. If an individual signs up late for a qualified health plan, then their penalty will be reduced by the proportion of time during which they were covered. Furthermore people that are uninsured for less than three months do not have to pay a penalty.2
During the lock out period, consumers in any marketplace can be granted a special enrollment period of sixty days if they have a qualifying life event.3 These events may include:4
Consumers who enrolled in an Obamacare plan through the federal health insurance exchange are automatically enrolled in that same health plan for 2019 plan year. Any health insurance subsidies they received in 2018 could be applied to the 2019 plan year. Consumers interested in switching health plans, can do so during the Open Enrollment Period starting November 1, 2018 to December 15, 2018, though the dates may be subject to change.
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