By Tim Fitzgerald on Oct 17, 2018 @ 12:24 PM
It’s time for open enrollment! If you have changed or bought new health insurance benefits in the past four years, you might know a thing or two about open enrollment. But, if you’re buying benefits for the first time, or if you’re just looking to learn a little bit more about open enrollment – here is everything you need to know.
For Starters - What is Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment (also known as annual enrollment) is the time you and your family can buy or change health insurance policies.
The actions you can take in the Open Enrollment period include:
- Adding or removing dependents
- Renewing your current insurance plan
- Buying a new insurance plan
When is the 2019 Open Enrollment Period?
The open enrollment period is just around the corner! The dates for 2019 open enrollment are November 1st – December 15th, 2018.
Why does Open Enrollment matter to you?
If you are an employee, self-employed or unemployed, open enrollment is important for you. Open enrollment is the ONLY time of year you can change and buy policies. The exception to this rule is if you qualify for a special enrollment period.
Special Enrollment Periods
Special enrollment periods are times after open enrollment for you to change plans or buy a new plan. You are only eligible for a special enrollment period if you have had a qualifying life event. Qualifying life events are changes in your life that directly affect your coverage eligibility. Some examples of qualifying life events are:
- Losing eligibility for Medicare
- Turning 26 and losing coverage through your parent’s plan
- Getting married or divorced
- Having or adopting a child
- Changing your residence
- Gaining U.S citizenship
- Leaving incarceration
For more information on special enrollment, check out healthcare.gov’s page on Special Enrollment.
How do you prepare for Open Enrollment?
Even though the 2019 open enrollment period is right around the corner, there is still time to prepare. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are ready:
- Mark the Open Enrollment Period on your calendar: November 1st – December 15th!
- Research Plan Options – If you are planning on buying a new plan or keeping your current plan, make sure to research plans and choose the one that works best for you and your family. Review your current plan, identify what benefits are most important to your family and look at as many plans as you can.
- Gather Important Information and Documents – All insurance companies are different and require different information. To find out what your provider needs, you need to contact them directly. However, gathering commonly required information will keep you ahead of the game. Some examples are:
- Proof of income
- Home/mailing address
- Social security numbers of you, your spouse, and any dependents
- Tax information
- Immigration information
- Employer and income information for all household members
- Any current healthcare coverage information
Open enrollment is the easiest event of the fall holiday season. If you keep open enrollment dates (November 1st – December 15th) in mind, prepare and research your plan options, you have everything you need to succeed!