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Open enrollment


An open enrollment period is a specific time of year when employees can sign up for health care, change insurance plans, or make other adjustments to their health coverage. That includes many types of insurance, including individual market health plans not provided by the employer, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Enrollment windows vary depending on the kind of insurance. Employer-sponsored enrollment periods are determined by the employer, though they usually take place in autumn so that new insurance plans can begin at the start of the calendar year. Some companies may also offer enrollment in health savings accounts (HSAs), life insurance and other health-related plans during this period. Enrollment periods for Medicare are set by the federal government: October 15 to December 7 for most employees, and January 1 to March 31 for employees already enrolled in Medicare Advantage. Enrollment periods for individual market plans are state-based, with most states following a schedule of November 1 to December 15.

There are also special enrollment periods outside of the usual windows available for employees who experience qualifying life events, such as marriage, childbirth or adoption, and losing existing coverage. Employees who miss their enrollment windows can also sign up for a short-term health insurance plan, although these do not meet ACA coverage requirements and may have limited coverage available.

Think you are forgetting something? Take a look at our open enrollment checklist that helps you ensure you are covering the bases of open enrollment in your organization.


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