You’ve probably heard the term “Open Enrollment.” But what exactly is Open Enrollment and why should you care? We’ve partnered with Catch to help our caregivers find ease in selecting healthcare that works for them. So together we’re sharing a short guide to the most common questions about Open Enrollment.

TLDR: The one time of year you can buy or change your health insurance!

Banner with phone showing open enrollment and a button for "find my plan"

What is Open Enrollment?

The Open Enrollment Period, more commonly known as OEP, is the one time of year that you can buy or change your health insurance. If you don’t buy health insurance during OEP, you will not be able to purchase until OEP the following year unless you experience a qualifying life event. If you already have health insurance, this still applies to you! This is the one time of year you can change your plan.

Who Does Open Enrollment Apply To?

Americans ages 18 to 64 will need to purchase their own health insurance if they don’t already have coverage from an employer, a spouse or parent’s employer, TRICARE, the VA, or Medicare.

When is Open Enrollment?

The Biden administration has extended Open Enrollment an additional 30 days. It begins on November 1, 2021, and now ends on January 15, 2022. However, in order to get coverage that begins on January 1, 2022, you must still enroll by December 15, 2021.

Which States Have Extended or Shortened Enrollment Windows?

Some states choose to extend or shorten the window people have to buy health insurance. Check to see if you live in one of these states and take note of the enrollment window:

Shortened

Idaho: November 1-December 15
Maryland: November 1-December 15
New York: November 1-December 31
Vermont: November 1-December 15
Washington: November 1-December 15

Extended

California: November 1-January 31
Massachusetts: November 1-January 23
New Jersey: November 1-January 31
Washington DC: November 1-January 31

Banner with phone screen showing open enrollment and text saying "average monthly savings $511"

Why Does Open Enrollment Exist?

In a word: stability. If Open Enrollment didn’t exist, when would you buy health insurance? Most likely when you got sick or injured, right? Well, OEP restricts when you can buy health insurance in order to maintain a needed balance for health insurance companies. By constraining the time period in which you can purchase health insurance, the amount of money going into and coming out of insurance companies’ pockets remains relatively balanced. This allows insurance companies to maintain a balanced pool of sick and healthy people, keeping the marketplaces stable.

The amount individuals pay in premiums works to counteract the money insurance companies are paying out towards claims. If people could sign up for insurance at any point, this balance wouldn’t exist and would cause an unhealthy disruption within the health insurance industry.

What If I Already Have A Plan From Last Year?

If you purchased health insurance last year, you’ll be automatically re-enrolled for that plan next year. Sounds pretty good, right? Beware—people who don’t switch plans oftentimes see their monthly health payments increase, their prescriptions might no longer be covered, and their doctors might no longer accept their old plan. Many people choose to cancel their current plan and switch to a new plan to either save money or get coverage that better fits their life!

What Can I Expect For Open Enrollment This Year?

New tax credits are making health insurance more affordable.

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) into law on March 11th, 2021. This law increases eligibility for tax credits that reduce health insurance premiums. After applying these tax credits, four out of five people will be able to find a plan for $10 or less/month, and over half will be able to find a Silver plan for $10 or less.

You can upgrade your plan for less.

Don’t let your old plan automatically re-enroll without research. One in four of those with marketplace plans will be able to upgrade to a plan with lower out-of-pocket costs.

You will still get just as much value from your plan.

Plans will continue to cover all the essential health benefits you’d look for in a health plan. Plans are required to continue covering things like emergency services, preventative care, prescription drugs, and more.

Banner with text saying, "Your safety net is waiting. Get the benefits you deserve."

Where Can I Get Health Insurance?

In less than 60 seconds, Catch will show you what plans are available to you, recommend the best plan for your needs, and apply the tax credits you’re eligible for that make your coverage more affordable. Catch is free to use and users can save an average of $500+ a month on their premiums. Getting covered takes less than 10 minutes and you can do it right from your phone.

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