*This post applies to under age 65 only.
Open enrollment! It's the only time of year that you're allowed to start or change your health insurance plan. Once this period is over, you're typically locked in the plan for one full year until the next open enrollment (unless you experience a special qualifying event).
Dates to keep in mind
Please note these dates change year to year.
Individual and Family Health Insurance
|November 1, 2016 - January 31, 2017|
Check with your employer.
|Medi-Cal||No specific dates, can apply at any time|
This open enrollment period is for individual and family plans, whether through Covered California (on exchange) or direct to the carrier (off exchange).
During open enrollment, you can:
Change to a new health insurance company
Change your coverage by upgrading or downgrading (i.e. If you have a new health condition, or you've started taking more prescriptions, this would be the time to review and make a decision)
Look at your estimated income and make changes as necessary
Open enrollment for health benefits through an employer
The open enrollment period for employer-sponsored health plans will vary with each employer, because an employer can start a new group health policy at any time during the year. You need to check with your employer or HR department to find out.
Some people choose to opt out of their employer-sponsored health insurance, either because it's too expensive or they want other options. If you opt out, please note these rules:
You must decline coverage during your employer's open enrollment period
When you opt out, you most likely cannot qualify for premium tax credits through Covered California (the exchange). As long as the employer-sponsored plan is considered 'affordable' and meets 'minimum standards', you will not get premium assistance. An employer's plan is considered 'affordable' if your portion of the premiums are less than 9.66% of your household income.
If you miss open enrollment and do not experience a special qualifying event, you would be able to apply for a short-term health insurance plan. However, these do not count as minimum essential coverage, so you may still pay the penalty for not having health insurance.