ACA Open Enrollment 2017 Information

Here is some helpful information regarding this year’s open health insurance enrollment period.

Changes to the 2017 Open Enrollment Dates

In 2018, the federal government’s current rule changes the open enrollment period from roughly 90 days to 45 days.  Though this change could be interpreted as an effort by the Trump administration to depress enrollment, such a reduction was already legislated for 2019 and beyond in the Code of Federal Regulations/Department of Health and Human Services (45 CFR 155.410). The change was pushed up one year to include benefit period 2018 (and beyond).  The reasoning for the shorter open enrollment period is to help stabilize the individual and small group markets and “reduce opportunities for adverse selection.” 

On April 13, 2017 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final rule designed to “improve the risk pool and promote stability in the individual insurance market” for 2018. The rule finalizes the provision from the proposed rule (82 FR 10980) that reduces the length of the 2018 open enrollment period from three months (November 1, 2017–January 31, 2018) to 45 days (November 1, 2017–December 15, 2017) to “reduce opportunities for adverse selection.”

ACA Legislation § 155.410 Initial and annual open enrollment periods.
(e)Annual open enrollment period.

(1) For the benefit year beginning on January 1, 2015, the annual open enrollment period begins on November 15, 2014, and extends through February 15, 2015.

(2) For the benefit years beginning on January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017, the annual open enrollment period begins on November 1 of the calendar year preceding the benefit year, and extends through January 31 of the benefit year.

(3) For the benefit years beginning on or after January 1, 2018, the annual open enrollment period begins on November 1 and extends through December 15 of the calendar year preceding the benefit year. (Revised 04/13/2017)

In other words, the ACA or “Obamacare” was already slated to have shorter open enrollment periods going forward.

However, some states are extending the time that people have to buy health insurance. Currently, those states are:

  • California – Nov. 1 to Jan. 31
  • Colorado – Nov. 1 to Jan. 12
  • D.C. – Nov. 1 to Jan. 31
  • Massachusetts – Nov. 1 to Jan. 31
  • Minnesota – Nov. 1 to Jan. 14
  • Washington – Nov. 1 to Jan. 15

If you buy after the Dec. 15 date in the states that are extending the enrollment period, you’ll need to check to see when the coverage will start as most still require you to obtain your plan by Dec. 15 for it to start on Jan. 1, 2018.

The majority of people enrolling in ACA plans at open enrollment are re-enrolling and a large majority of those people do it within the first week of open enrollment.

Sources:

http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2017/04/14/looking-ahead-to-2018-will-a-shorter-open-enrollment-period-reduce-adverse-selection-in-exchange-plans/

http://www.insure.com/health-insurance/open-enrollment-for-individual-health-insurance.html