What steps should you take during annual enrollment or open enrollment?
If you have insurance through your employer, you need to pay attention during your annual enrollment period to make any changes you want to your insurance. If you want to switch to a different health insurance plan, add supplemental coverage or opt out of any optional coverage, this is your chance to do it.
People often make changes during annual enrollment or open enrollment because they want to manage their insurance costs differently or improve their coverage. Maybe you anticipate needing more medical care in the coming year or you haven’t been using your plan and want to change to a lower-cost option.
If you don’t have insurance through an employer, open enrollment is also your opportunity to make changes to your existing health insurance policy or sign up for a new one—whether you want to upgrade to a more expansive policy or shift to a lower-cost premium with a higher deductible.
Make sure you read the fine print on any insurance-related communications from your employer and/or insurance provider before and during the enrollment period. Usually, you can continue your existing coverage without taking any action. But if there are any actions or decisions required of you by the enrollment period deadline, make sure you understand and fulfill them. If you don’t complete these before the deadline, you might not get another opportunity until next year.
What if you do not have health insurance or lose your coverage?
Usually, open enrollment and annual enrollment are the only times of year to sign up for health insurance. However, if you have recently lost your job, gotten married or divorced, had a change of residence, had a baby, or gone through other life changes known as “qualifying life events,” Opens in new window you can sign up for health insurance at any time of year. These situations let you have a Special Enrollment Period when you can make changes or enroll in a new plan for up to 60 days after the qualifying event.
See HealthCare.gov for more information on what it takes to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Opens in new window
Here's the bottom line on AE vs OE: Annual enrollment is for employees who get health insurance as part of their benefits. Open enrollment is for people who get insurance on the individual market. But everyone can make changes to their health insurance at any time of year, if they have a qualifying event.