Q. If I already enrolled in a plan for the new year, can I change my mind and pick a different plan instead?
A. Yes, you can make multiple plan selections during open enrollment, as long as you complete the final plan change by the end of open enrollment. For 2018 coverage, open enrollment ends December 15, 2017 in all but nine states.
This is the first time that open enrollment will not continue into the new year, eliminating — in most states — the possibility of changing your mind after the start of the year. In prior years, people whose plans were auto-renewed were able to return to the exchange in January and pick a different plan, but that’s no longer an option for most enrollees.
If your 2017 coverage is being terminated because your insurer is exiting the market in your area, the exchange will pick a new plan for you if you don’t select one yourself during open enrollment. But you’ll also qualify for a special enrollment period triggered by loss of coverage. If that applies in your case, you’ll be able to pick a plan other than the one the exchange picked for you, and you’ll have until March 1, 2018 to make your plan selection.
If you enrolled in a plan early in open enrollment and then change your mind before open enrollment is over, contact the exchange and follow its instructions for making a plan change. Make a note of who helped you, and get an incident number to keep track of the steps you’ve taken.
Be aware that the cancellation of your existing policy could take a while, especially during open enrollment when the exchanges and carries are very busy. Generally, if you enrolled through the exchange, you have to initiate the cancellation request through the exchange, and they’ll transmit it to the carrier. (If you’re enrolled in an off-exchange plan, you’ll submit your cancellation request directly to your carrier.)
If your current premiums are automatically drafted from your bank account, you can request a change to paper billing; in most cases, this can be done directly through the carrier. Then, if there’s a delay in processing your cancellation request, you won’t be inadvertently paying for two plans at the same time.
Make sure you pay any premiums due on the current plan to cover you until the new plan takes effect, so you don’t end up with gaps in coverage.
After the end of open enrollment, you won’t be able to make a plan change (including off-exchange, unless you live in Nevada) for the rest of the year unless you have a qualifying event.