Open Enrollment Period 2018: What to Expect

If you have been considering making changes to your health insurance coverage, switching plans, or dropping your current provider, the time has come: Open enrollment for your 2019 insurance plan begins October 15. To make this important process easier, we have broken down what to expect from your open enrollment period this year with answers to frequently asked questions.

What is open enrollment? This is the annual window of time in which applicants can change, switch, or drop insurance providers/plans. While it has been part of employee-sponsored insurance for some time, open enrollment hit the individual market more recently in 2013 (healthinsurance.org).

Does every insurance company have it? Under the Affordable Care Act, in every state insurance companies are required to have an open enrollment period. This is the only time you can enroll or make changes to your insurance plan, and for employee sponsored coverage the only time you can drop your plan, unless you trigger a special enrollment period with a qualifying life event (insure.com).

Do I have to re-enroll every year? If you don’t make any changes to your plan you are automatically enrolled in a plan similar to the previous year’s. This is a good fail-safe option, but it is advisable to review options each year and reevaluate your insurance needs or find more affordable options (healthcare.gov).

Each calendar year there are changes to Medicare as well. This period of change is known as Medicare Annual Election, occurring October 15th through December 7th of this year. Changes include any or all parts (Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D). Consumers should be aware that Rx and advantage plans change their premiums, copays, networks, and more each year, so make sure to ask your health insurance carrier what the changes may be.

Get a head start and begin reviewing your plan for this year’s open enrollment period! All plans are finalized and effective January 1, 2019. However, programs that are state-run may have more flexible deadlines. For a more comprehensive guide to Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP), check out our blog post.