Starting in November each year, you can sign up for employer benefits such as medical, vision and dental insurance, or make changes to the coverage you already have.
During open enrollment, it's smart to compare your current health insurance plan with other options. You may discover that another plan better meets your needs or is more in line with your budget. Or, you might need to sign up for a new plan if your employer stops offering the one you're currently using. And, although health insurance is the starring attraction of open enrollment season, it's just one of many benefits your employer may offer.
If you don't have access to an employer-sponsored plan, the Affordable Care Act has an open enrollment period in the fall as well.
Here are some key facts and insights to help you navigate open enrollment.
When is open enrollment?
The exact dates vary from year to year, but in general, open enrollment runs annually from November through mid-December. The timeline is the same for employer-based health insurance and the ACA individual insurance marketplace. Any changes that you make to your insurance will take effect on January 1 of the following year.
What happens during open enrollment?
If your employer provides health insurance, during open enrollment you might be offered a new plan option, a new insurance provider, a higher-deductible insurance plan or new supplemental insurance plans, such as hospital indemnity or critical illness insurance coverage.
Some employers offer more choices during open enrollment than others; many employers may prefer to stay with the same insurance provider and continue offering a similar range of options.
Many employers offer benefits presentations and seminars during open enrollment, where employees can ask questions and learn more about their options. Be sure to ask your human resources team or benefits representatives if you're wondering about the best option to suit your needs.