Open enrollment is a period each year when you can sign up for health insurance. Many of these rules could change in the future, but the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare as popularly known, is currently still in place for 2018 health insurance plans.
MLJ Insurance was happy to assist many Coloradans during Open Enrollment 2017. We understand there are many questions about Healthcare Reform, but here’s what we know about the upcoming open enrollment so far.
When is the next Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment in the individual market (on and off-marketplace) has varied considerably over the last few years. Starting with 2018 coverage, open enrollment will run from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017, with all plans effective January 1, 2018. Plan selections will not be able to be made after the year begins.
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), announced that it intends to modify the next open enrollment period for individual health insurance coverage beyond the deadline that will be used in states with a federal health insurance marketplace.
Colorado’s open enrollment period for 2018 will begin on November 1, 2017 and end on January 12, 2018, for Coloradans buying their own health insurance for 2018.
“Our consistent approach this year is to be as flexible as possible and do everything within our power to ensure consumers have a viable health insurance market for the 2018 plan year. To that end, we want to make sure consumers have adequate time to plan and shop for their health insurance needs,” said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar.
The Division will notify insurance carriers of these dates as the enrollment period applies to all health insurance carriers in the state offering individual health insurance coverage, whether they sell through Connect for Health or off the exchange.
Special Enrollment Period
The open enrollment period has an exception that allows you to enroll outside of open enrollment under extenuating circumstances, called Qualifying Life Event. This exception allows you to sign up for health insurance within 60 days of the life event.
Some examples of a Qualifying Life Event are:
- Lost your job
- Moved to a new state
- Got divorced or married
- Aged off of a parent’s plan
- COBRA insurance expired
- Have a new baby
- Change in your income
Please note that you will not be eligible for a special enrollment period if you lost your other health insurance because you didn’t pay the monthly premiums, though, or if you voluntarily cancelled your prior coverage.
Other Open Enrollment Period Exceptions
There are some health plans you can purchase outside of open enrollment without a special enrollment period. Here are some of them:
You can apply for Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) or the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) any time and you can enroll right away if determined eligible. Travel Insurance isn’t subject to the open enrollment restrictions, either.
Short-Term Insurance isn’t regulated by the ACA, and plans are available year-round in states that allow them. You will want to keep in mind that having one of these plans in place doesn’t count toward the ACA requirement, which means you may have to pay a penalty at tax time for not having health insurance. In addition, as of April 1, 2017, you can only purchase a short-term plan for three months.
In some cases, Supplemental Insurance Products, are available year-round; however, they can base eligibility on medical history, impose limits on pre-existing conditions, and cap benefits at fairly low levels. These plans may be a great supplement to the health insurance coverage you have, but they are never intended to stand alone as your only coverage.
MLJ During Open Enrollment
Currently the Division of Insurance (DOI) is reviewing the insurance companies’ submission for new plans and rates. The new 2018 rates will be only instituted with approval from the Division of Insurance. There is expected to be announcements in August and the final approval should be sometime in September. This means the insurance companies will have the month of October to get everything ready to market.
It’s important to understand that MLJ will only be able to begin quoting the new 2018 plans when the insurance companies release the plans information and rates. We would like to encourage our clients and prospects to wait to begin applying until the first full week of November or after 11/6/2017.
As licensed agents, we are here to advocate before and after you enroll, becoming your personal advisor. We know it isn’t just about finding the price of a plan, but also that you have the right type of coverage for you and/or your family. We are certified in Connect for Health Colorado (Colorado’s Exchange). As certified brokers, we can compare, quote and enroll you in health plans that best fit your needs.
When our office can begin quoting we will be posting our online calendar link for phone appointments in our website.
And don’t forget that our services are free to you and we strive to assist you in the best way possible!!!