Open Enrollment – What Does This Mean?
by Heather Mosher

Open Enrollment – What Does This Mean?

The Affordable Care Act has created many new dynamics in the health insurance world.  This includes a new way of looking at how we purchase health insurance, and some new terminology along the way.  Many people have heard the term “Open Enrollment.”  It’s all over the nightly news, internet, and social media.  We hear it so much, but what does this term really mean?

In general, open enrollment refers to the specific time period each year in which an individual or family can do the following:

  • Make changes to their current plan
  • Enroll and begin coverage for the first time under a new plan

This year, open enrollment will begin on November 15, 2014 and continue until February 15, 2015.  This four month period allows all Americans to reassess their current situation and either choose a new plan that better fits their needs, or in the case of some Americans, make a decision to start purchasing health insurance coverage for the first time.

Many people do not realize that this four month period is their only chance during the year to obtain health insurance coverage.  They believe they can choose to go without coverage and then buy it, or enroll in a plan half-way through the year if something in their health history changes.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.

That being said, there are certain situations which may warrant a “Special Enrollment Period.”  These situations could include (but are not limited to):

  • Having a child
  • Getting married
  • Moving out of your plan’s service area (i.e. living in Michigan and moving to California)
  • Losing health coverage due to an employment change

Obtaining a special enrollment period means you would have access to health insurance coverage outside of the annual open enrollment dates listed above.

To obtain further information regarding your options for this upcoming open enrollment period, or to see if you are eligible for a special enrollment period, contact Health Insurance Advisor Heather Mosher at VAST at 906-315-7235 or

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