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What is Open Enrollment?

If you have a health plan, or you want to get one, you may have heard the term “open enrollment.” But what does it mean?


Open enrollment refers to the period of time when individuals can choose a health plan for the coming year. Because health plans have specific start and end dates, there is a deadline for when you can sign up to join a plan.

For the millions of Americans who get a health plan through their job, or through Medicare, or for those who will buy a plan through a health insurance exchange, open enrollment takes place during the fall for health plans that start in January.

If you get a health plan through your job, the exact dates for open enrollment are specific to your employer. It is often a two-week period sometime between September and December.

For the more than 58 million seniors and other people enrolled in Medicare, their open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

If you are signing up for a plan through the federal health insurance exchange, at HealthCare.gov, the open enrollment period for 2018 runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.