The open enrollment period for the 2018 plan year begins November 1, 2017 and ends December 15, 2017. Consumers looking for coverage to begin on January 1, 2017 must enroll by December 15, 2017. People experiencing life events that change their circumstances during the year, such as childbirth or job loss, should review our special enrollment period article.
Applications submitted between the 1st and 15th days of the month shall result in coverage beginning the first day of the following month
Applications submitted between the 16th and the last day of the month shall result in coverage beginning the first day of the second following month
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.
Obamacare Lock Out Period
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, 2018 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 adult21. 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.22
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.23 These events may include:24
Exceptional circumstances (such as natural disasters, medical emergencies, and planned system outages) near the deadline
Moving to a new location outside the provider network of their current plan
Birth or adoption
Losing existing health coverage
Misinformation, misrepresentation, or inaction on the part of entities providing formal enrollment assistance
Enrollment errors due to technical issues
System errors related to immigration status
Display errors on marketplace websites
Delays in application transfers for consumers found ineligible for Medicaid or CHIP
Misinformation about availability of premium tax credits for victims of domestic abuse who are married but not filing a joint tax return
Other system errors
Moreover there is no lock out period for Medicaid or CHIP, so eligible consumers can enroll in these programs at any time.25
Auto-Enrollment & Obamacare Subsidies
Consumers who enrolled in an Obamacare plan through the federal health insurance exchange are automatically enrolled in that same health plan for 2018 plan year. Any health insurance subsidies they received in 2017 could be applied to the 2018 plan year. Consumers interested in switching health plans, can do so during the Open Enrollment Period starting November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017, though the dates may be subject to change.
HealthPocket is a free information source designed to help consumers find medical coverage. Whether you are looking for Medicare, Medicaid or an individual health insurance plan, we will help you find the right healthcare option and save on your out of pocket healthcare costs. We receive our data from government, non-profit and private sources, and you should confirm key provisions of your coverage with your selected health plan. If you select a plan presented on our site, you will be directed (via a click or a call) to one of our partners who can help you with your application. Our website is not a health insurance agency and not affiliated with and does not represent or endorse any health plan.