The Open Enrollment period for Obamacare health insurance in 2017 is November 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017. Critical deadlines are:
- November 1, 2016: Open Enrollment begins. Apply for or change your coverage.
- December 15, 2016: Deadline in order to have coverage that begins on January 1, 2017 (if you apply on December 16 you’re coverage will most likely not start until February 1).
- December 31, 2016: Coverage ends for 2015 plans. You will be auto-renewed if you don’t change your plan.
- January 31, 2017: This is the last day you can apply for 2017 coverage before the end of Open Enrollment.
If you miss this window you cannot enroll until the Marketplace re-opens in November 2017 unless you have a special “life event” such as having a baby, getting married or losing your coverage through your employer. This is designed to prevent people from taking advantage of the system by enrolling and dropping insurance multiple times a year when they only get sick.
If you don’t enroll in Obamacare in 2017, you’ll be fined 2.5% of your income or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.
Individuals and children living in poverty can enroll at anytime in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There is no enrollment period for these programs, but there are income restrictions and other qualifiers.
Coverage start dates
If you enroll before the 15th of any month, your coverage starts the first day of the next month. If you enroll after the 15th of the month, you’ll have to wait until the month after that for your coverage to start. For example, if you enroll on January 16th, your coverage will begin on March 1st.