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The 2020 Open Enrollment Period refers to the period when Americans are allowed to purchase or make existing changes to their 2020 health insurance plan for the upcoming year. This has been a yearly occurrence since President Barack Obama passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which is commonly referred to as Obamacare.

What Is Obamacare? 

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was brought into law to allow more American’s could sustain a basic level of health care. Individuals can receive health insurance through private insurance agents, employers, or government insurance programs such as CHIP, Medicare, or Medicaid.

What is the Open Enrollment Period for 2020?

If you purchase health insurance during the 2020 Open Enrollment period, your health insurance policy will become active on January 1st of the upcoming year. For instance, if you want insurance in 2020, you’ll need to purchase health insurance between November 1st and December 15th, 2019.

It is recommended that everyone go over their health insurance options every year, as policy offerings do change year by year. If you are looking for health insurance, it’s important to check to see what your deductibles are, what your policy covers, and if you should look for a different health insurance option due to your changed circumstances. A new plan may work better and be more affordable.

If you’re buying individual market coverage chances are you’ll have a little over six weeks to enroll or make changes to existing coverage. 

In nearly all states, open enrollment begins on November 1st and ends on December 15th. There are twelve state-run exchanges which control their enrollment platforms, which gives them the option to add additional time before or after the open enrollment period. This will grow to 13 in 2020 as Nevada will begin governing their medical insurance platform. For 2019 coverage, ten of the twelve state-run programs opted to extend the open enrollment time for residents. Only Maryland and Idaho adhered with the November 1st – December 15th time frame.

Of the twelve, California, Colorado, and DC have chosen to extend their open enrollment permanently:

  • DC: November 1st to January 31st
  • California: October 15th to January 15th
  • Colorado: November 1st to January 15th

Once open enrollment ends, you won’t have a chance to register or make adjustments to your coverage for 2020 without a qualifying event.

2020 Open Enrollment Period Updates

There have been many changes in the healthcare industry recently, and many people have struggled to find the right kind of health insurance at an affordable price this year.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is still in effect in 2019, although there are some changes. The individual mandate penalty is no longer in effect, so those without insurance will not have to pay a federal tax penalty. However, some states do have an individual mandate in place.

Also, major national health insurance companies like Aetna pulled out many of their policy offerings in 2018. At the same time, some areas added one or more insurers to their options.

As stated above, Nevada intends to discontinue the use of HealthCare.gov and migrate to its a state-run enrollment site ready for open enrollment on November 1st, 2019. Historically the state had an exchange site in 2014, but after grappling with technical issues, the state switched to HealthCare.gov from 2015 to 2019. Nevada kept its state-run market during those years, and just used HealthCare.gov as the enrollment platform.

Individual Market Coverage

The November 1st through December 15th open enrollment concerns individual market coverage that’s compliant with the Affordable Care Act. There accounts for a small amount of Americans, an estimated 15.7 million in 2018, who have individual market coverage.

People who have grandfathered into individual market coverage, any changes related to open enrollment do not affect you. Because the plan you have is no longer available for purchase, it doesn’t have applicable open enrollment windows. Although it is in your best interest to see how your current coverage compares with the 2020 ACA-compliant plans as you may be eligible for premium or cost-sharing subsidies. 

Medicare and Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

There are open enrollment windows for those with Medicare or employer-sponsored health insurance. These are separate from enrollment periods within the individual market and are not influenced by Navigator funding, date changes, or state-specific extensions. 

When is Open Enrollment for Health Insurance 2020

The Open Enrollment Period for purchasing health insurance for 2020 will be November 1st through December 15th, 2019. States have the option of extending the open enrollment period. California has permanently extended its open enrollment period. It now runs from October 15th to January 15th. Colorado has also permanently extended its open enrollment period from December 16th to January 15th.

Seven other states extended their open enrollment periods in 2019 and might do the same in 2020. These states are:

If your state does have an extended enrollment period, check to see when your health insurance policy comes into effect; it may be later than January 1st in some cases.

What Are Important Dates Of The 2020 Open Enrollment Period?

November 1st, 2019: Open Enrollment starts — this is the earliest day you can enroll, re-enroll, or modify a 2020 insurance plan within Marketplace.

December 15th, 2019: Is the last day to enroll in or change plans for coverage, unless you are qualified for the Special Enrollment Period.

January 1st, 2020: Plans sold during the OEP begin

When Does Open Enrollment End?

Open enrollment ends on December 15th. Before President Trump was elected, the Obamacare Open Enrollment period ran for three full months, lasting from November 1st to January 31st. However, with the Republican government intent on implementing a new healthcare system, the three-month duration was trimmed down to 45 days.

Why Is There A Shorter Enrollment Period? 

The government decided to shorten the window for open enrollment as many people enrolled in late January and had a March 1st activation date. As a result, many Americans were paying premiums for just 10 months as opposed to 12.

Those who need the most care (sick people) were not likely to opt for 10 months, and insurers knew this wasn’t sustainable, as they spend the most on health coverage. Creating a shorter enrollment period allowed companies have enough people enrolled in full-year coverage. This, in turn, keeps the risk pool stable. 

Under the Obama Administration, the USA had come to the same resolution in a law that was settled in 2016. When it became law, the point was to give companies, exchanges, and consumers more time to prepare for the OEP, as it was supposed to take effect in fall 2018. Though under the Trump administration, there was a cut of funding for exchange marketing and enrollment assistance, alongside the shortening of the enrollment period pushed to a year earlier.

What If I Have Coverage Through My Employer?

The open enrollment changes do not affect those who have employee health insurance coverage. If this is the case, your enrollment period may overlap with the individual market’s open enrollment period.

Many employee health plans have their open enrollment periods in the fall so that any coverage changes will come into effect come January 1st. Though it’s not always the case, as some plans do not follow the calendar year. 

Keep in mind that open enrollment for employer-sponsored plans is often shorter, so be sure you are aware of the key dates that apply to your plan as well as any questions answered before the window closes.

How Much Is the Penalty for Not Having Health Insurance?

Unlike previous years, Americans will no longer be fined for not having ACA-compliant health insurance coverage. When the individual mandate being repealed, it removed the requirement for citizens that don’t have health insurance to pay the Shared Responsibility fee on their federal taxes. Some states have their own health insurance mandates, where you might be required to pay a fee with your state taxes for the 2019 plan year.

How to Get Health Insurance After Open Enrollment

Can I Sign up for Health Insurance After Open Enrollment?

If you don’t purchase health insurance during the 2020 Open Enrollment period, you can still qualify for health insurance at other times throughout the year. Short-term health insurance is available, as is employer-based coverage, Medicaid, and CHIP. Many people qualify for insurance subsidies and tax credits to make health insurance more affordable.

American Indians, Alaska Natives, and individuals who qualify for Medicaid can purchase health insurance at any time throughout the year. Additionally, if you have a Qualifying Life Event, you can buy health insurance at different times during the year.

A lot can happen in 12-months to an individual or a family. The government is fully aware of this and has put measures into place to help people get healthcare coverage anytime after the deadline. A QLE, also known as a Qualifying Life Event, is something that happens to an individual, or a family that causes them to either lose healthcare coverage or need to make a plan change. However, not all life changes are created equal, and some will not qualify during the Special Enrollment Period (also known as SEP).

What Is a Qualifying Life Event (QLE)?

This refers to a major life change, which makes you ineligible for purchasing a health insurance plan during the 2020 Open Enrollment Period. If you or your family has had any of the following qualifying life events occur, you could be eligible during the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to sign up for coverage:

  • If you’ve gotten married
  • If you are having a baby or adopting a baby.
  • If you are getting off your parent’s health care plan in favor of your own.
  • If you no longer receive health care under your parents.
  • If your insurance company cancels your plan.
  • If you have just become a US citizen.
  • No longer qualify for Medicaid
  • If you have just been released from incarceration.
  • If you are a college student returning from college.
  • If your spouse has died, and you have lost coverage.
  • If you are a seasonal worker.
  • If you have gained membership in a federally recognized tribe.

Once you receive approval, you can then shop around for a plan in the state-based exchange or the federal Marketplace.

Is Turning 26 A Qualifying Life Event?

When you turn 26, you will lose your parent’s coverage. So yes, this means that it is, in fact, a Qualifying Life Event. Because it is one of the few QLE’s you can anticipate, take advantage of the fact that you can enroll in health insurance spanning 60 days before and after your birthday! Missing that deadline will mean that you’ll have to wait for up to 10 months for the next Open Enrollment Period.

Special Enrollment Periods

If you have a Qualifying Life Event, you’ll need to sign up for the Special Enrollment Period within 60 days of that change. Some life events may not qualify for enrollment during the Special Enrollment Period. Here are a few of the higher searched life events that ultimately will not be eligible as a QLE:

  • Voluntarily dropping your health care coverage
  • Learning that your primary physician is not in your network.
  • You missed the open enrollment period due to being on vacation.
  • Your most current healthcare insurance policy was canceled due to nonpayment of premium.

Get Assistance With Health Insurance

With the many changes to the health insurance industry in the United States, it can be difficult to keep up with all the important dates and policies that influence your eligibility for affordable healthcare policies. There are still health care Navigators in each state who can help individuals with the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act and better understand what their options are. Many people may qualify for subsidies or Medicaid.

To learn more about changes to the Affordable Care Act and the 2020 Open Enrollment period for health insurance in 2020, contact the experts at HealthQuoteInfo.com at 844-903-4259. Our licensed health insurance experts will be happy to answer any questions you may have.