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What is open enrollment?

Open enrollment

Optum Perks Author

By Optum Perks Author

What is open enrollment?

Open Enrollment is the annual period when Americans can change their health insurance plan or enroll in health insurance. Open Enrollment periods apply for people enrolling in or changing their Medicare plan, people enrolling or changing their health care plan provided by their employer, and individuals who are insured under the Affordable Care Act.


Heath care needs change as people go through life. The health insurance plan someone has in their 20s likely won’t be the right coverage for their 30s or 40s. Open Enrollment gives Americans a chance to review their medical needs and make sure their health insurance provides the right coverage, from out-of-pocket payments and deductibles to prescription medication coverage.

When is open enrollment?   

The exact Open Enrollment dates can change by state and can occasionally have extensions. In general, Open Enrollment for individuals runs from November 1 through December 15. Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7.  Employers can choose when to have Open Enrollment, but most employers choose to have Open Enrollment in the fall to mirror the individual market.

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Special enrollment opportunities   

Open Enrollment is the only time most Americans can change their health insurance plan without a special event. Special events include moving, getting married, having a baby, adopting a child, or losing health coverage due to a lost job, for example.


Special Enrollment windows to enroll in or change health insurance plans usually expire 60 days after the event or start 60 days before the event, depending on the life event. For example, a recently married couple would have 60 days after their wedding to change their health insurance plans before their window ends.

Open Enrollment is a crucial time to review and update health care coverage. No matter the health care plan, Optum Perks has prescription drug coupons to save you money on your medications. Simply go to Optum Perks and type in your prescription to find coupons for your next trip to the pharmacy!