While you might be happy with your existing health insurance plan, it’s never a bad idea to explore your options and consider whether you might benefit from changing your coverage.
If you’re looking to update your health plan, you can make changes during certain months of the year known as “enrollment periods”. But how do the enrollment periods work, and when can you amend your existing coverage? At Healthedly, we understand the terminology can seem daunting, so here’s a breakdown of the difference between open and annual enrollment periods so you can see how they might apply in your situation.
Open Enrollment Period
The open enrollment period (OEP) is a time when you can change your health insurance. When is the open enrollment period? Well, the exact time frame depends on your provider, but it usually falls around October, November or December. Open enrollment for the ACA in 2022 runs from November 1st, 2022 to January 15th, 2023.
During the OEP, you can:
- open a new policy
- switch plans
- amend your level of coverage
Who can use the OEP? Typically it applies to individuals who don’t have an employee-sponsored healthcare plan; for example, the self-employed. So, if you don’t have employee-sponsored health insurance and you want to change your plan to suit your evolving health needs, then this is your window of opportunity.
Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Period
Medicare has its own annual open enrollment periods. Here’s everything you need to know about it!
- Medicare open enrollment period: If you have a Medicare policy, you can switch, change, or cancel your plan between October 15 and December 7.
- Medicare Advantage open enrollment period: Individuals with Medicare Advantage plans can change, cancel, or switch their coverage between January 1 and March 31.
- You could switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare during this special enrollment period for Medicare customers.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan without prescription coverage to a Medicare Advantage with a Prescription Drug plan (or vice versa).
- Switch to a new plan with a different provider
Annual Open Enrollment Period
The annual enrollment period (AEP) applies to individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance. During this window – which, again, usually falls between November and December – you can change your policy, join a new plan, amend your coverage, or cancel your insurance.
- Check with your employer if you’re unsure when your annual enrollment period is.
- Your employer may require you to take some affirmative action to renew your coverage each year, so double-check your policy to see if there’s anything you should do before the window ends.
Open Enrollment vs. Annual Enrollment
While you might sometimes see OEP and AEP used interchangeably, they are slightly different.
- Anyone with an employer-sponsored health insurance plan can change their coverage during the annual enrollment period.
- If you don’t have an employer-sponsored healthcare plan, you can change your coverage during the open enrollment period.
Finally, if you have a Medicare plan, you can change it during the annual enrollment period which typically runs from October to December. And if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can make a one-time policy change between January and March.
Open Enrollment or Annual Enrollment: Which Is Right for You?
Ultimately, this comes down to your personal circumstances. Whether you use an open enrollment or annual enrollment period depends on:
- what health insurance coverage you already have;
- whether your employer covers your health insurance; and
- what changes may be required to ensure your health insurance covers your needs.
At Healthedly, we know how confusing the health insurance market can be, and we’re committed to helping our clients choose the right coverage at the right time. Our friendly, experienced team can walk you through a range of health plans to suit your budget and your long-term care needs – and we can offer you free enrollment support when you need it most.