When can you buy health insurance for 2020?
- Open enrollment for 2020 coverage will be Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2019 in most of the states.
- Three state-run exchanges have permanently extended open enrollment and others could do so for 2020 (as they mostly have in prior years).
- Other than in Nevada, you can’t enroll outside of open enrollment unless you have a qualifying event.
Open enrollment for ACA-compliant 2020 coverage will run from November 1, 2019 to December 15, 2019 in all states that use HealthCare.gov, and in some of the states that run their own exchanges. This enrollment schedule applies both on and off-exchange.
California, Colorado, and DC have permanently extended their open enrollment periods:
- California: October 15 to January 15
- Colorado: November 1 to January 15
- District of Columbia: November 1 to January 31
There are nine other fully state-run health insurance exchanges, and Nevada will join them for 2020, bringing the total number of fully state-run exchanges to 13. In addition to Colorado, California, and DC, those other 10 state-run exchanges will have the option to extend open enrollment (in past years, most of them have done so, by at least a week). We’ll keep track of any updates from those states and post them in our comprehensive overview of Obamacare open enrollment deadlines for 2020 coverage.
Read our extensive list of frequently asked questions about enrollment.
Regardless of whether you purchase insurance through the exchange or off-exchange, the annual Obamacare open enrollment window applies. Nevada is an exception – coverage is available there outside the exchange year-round, albeit without subsidies and with a 90-day waiting period before coverage becomes effective.
Buying coverage outside of open enrollment
But in the rest of the country, you cannot enroll outside of open enrollment unless you have a qualifying event. And the rules for special enrollment periods are stricter than they used to be. In most cases, you’re required to have already had coverage prior to the qualifying event in order to sign up for a new plan as a result of the qualifying event (for example, if you move to a new area, it’s only a qualifying event — allowing you to sign up for a plan in your new area — if you already had coverage in your previous location). The restrictions on special enrollment periods make it more important than ever for people to sign up during open enrollment, when those restrictions don’t apply.
What happens if you don’t buy during open enrollment?
Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.