Open enrollment for 2018 coverage

Open Enrollment for 2018 coverageIn Colorado, open enrollment for 2018 coverage began November 1, 2017, and will end January 12, 2018. This is shorter than the open enrollment periods that have been used for previous years, but it’s longer than the open enrollment periods that most states are using for 2018 coverage. In most states, open enrollment ends December 15, 2017, but Colorado is one of nine states with an extended open enrollment window this year.

If you enroll in a plan by December 15, your coverage will take effect January 1, 2018. But people in Colorado will also be able to select a plan between December 16 and January 12 — with coverage effective February 1 — which is an option that’s not available to enrollees in most states. After January 12, 2018, Colorado residents will only be able to make changes to their 2018 coverage (or enroll for the first time) if they experience a qualifying event during the year.

Open enrollment for 2018 coverage had previously been slated to follow the same dates that were used for the last two years (November 1 through January 31), but the market stabilization rule that HHS finalized in April 2017 made the switch to a shorter open enrollment period (November 1 – December 15) starting in the fall of 2017. The November 1 – December 15 timeframe was already on tap to become the standard for open enrollment beginning in the fall of 2018 (for 2019 coverage and beyond), but the market stabilization rule hastened the introduction of a shorter open enrollment period.

HHS noted that state-run exchanges (like Connect for Health Colorado) might run into difficulties in implementing the new open enrollment schedule on such short notice, and clarified that they would be able to extend open enrollment for 2018 coverage if necessary. Ultimately, nine of the 12 exchanges that run their own enrollment platforms — including Colorado — did go ahead and extend open enrollment, but the end dates vary by state, with extensions that range from a single week after December 15, all the way to the end of January. Colorado’s end-date is in the middle of the road among the state-run exchanges that opted to extend open enrollment.

So if you’re in Colorado, the crunch-time of open enrollment isn’t quite as crunched this year as it is in other states. But if you want your new coverage to take effect January 1, 2018, you still need to hurry, as December 15 is your enrollment deadline. After that, you can still sign up, but your coverage won’t take effect until February (unless you’re losing other coverage on December 31, or getting married, as those are qualifying events that allow for different effective date rules).

About Louise Norris

Louise Norris has been writing about health insurance and healthcare reform since 2006. In addition to the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, she also writes for healthinsurance.org, medicareresources.org, Verywell, Spark by ADP, and Boost by ADP. Follow on twitter and facebook.

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