Are you suffering from Open Enrollment Confusion?

First, some definitions.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).

The Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as Obamacare, is a market for purchasing private insurance. Generally speaking, it’s for people who don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. 

Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment

This open enrollment period applies only to people who are purchasing health insurance through each state’s insurance marketplace, not people on Medicare. This checklist offers a good overview of what you need to be thinking about if you or someone you know gets health insurance from the marketplace.

Important dates to note:

  • November 1, 2016: Open Enrollment starts — first day you can enroll, re-enroll, or change a 2017 insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2017.
  • December 15, 2016: Last day to enroll in or change plans for coverage to start January 1, 2017.
  • January 1, 2017: 2017 coverage starts for those who enroll or change plans by December 15.
  • January 31, 2017: Last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health plan. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Medicare Open Enrollment

Every year, Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 - December 7. Medicare health and drug plans can make changes each year—things like cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. October 15 to December 7 is when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.

How do people know if they need to change plans? People in a Medicare health or prescription drug plan should always review the materials their plans send them, like the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). If their plans are changing, they should make sure their plans will still meet their needs for the following year. If they’re satisfied that their current plans will meet their needs for next year and it’s still being offered, they don’t need to do anything.

When can people get information about next year’s Medicare plans? Information for next year’s plans will be available beginning in October.

Where can people find Medicare plan information or compare plans? Call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit  

Retiree Health Plan Open Enrollment

Many retiree health plans conduct their open enrollment periods during the 4th quarter of each year. These open enrollment periods will vary from company to company. 

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