There are two distinct enrollment periods for health insurance: the Open Enrollment Period and the Special Enrollment Period.
Understanding the difference between the two is important to knowing which plans you can qualify for and when.
Open Enrollment Period: The Open Enrollment Period is the best time to enroll in a Government Plan. These are the plans created by the Affordable Care Act. You cannot be denied acceptance to a Government Plan for preexisting medical conditions. These plans also offer subsidies or “discounts” to your premium and costs, but only if you meet certain income qualifications.
For 2021 plans, the Open Enrollment Period is from November 1, 2020 to December 15, 2020. You must enroll by the 15th of the current enrollment month for your coverage to start on the 1st of the upcoming month. For example, you need to enroll by December 15, 2020 for your coverage to start January 1st, 2021.
Learn more about the Open Enrollment Period here.
Special Enrollment Period: The Special Enrollment Period basically begins after the Open Enrollment Period ends. It is the time period outside of Open Enrollment. During this time, the only way to get a Government Plan is you have certain life changes, known as “Qualifying Life Events.”
If you miss Open Enrollment and do not have a Qualifying Life Event, you can still get coverage through a Non-Government Plan. These plans are a great and often inexpensive way to provide you with short term coverage, specifically until the next Open Enrollment Period.
Learn more about the Special Enrollment Period and Qualifying Life Events here.