Time to Enroll in a Health Plan Again? Already?

Time to Enroll in a Health Plan Again? Already?

Many of us aren’t big fans of deadlines. We’re busy. Finding time to knock out one more thing on our to-do list can be a hassle. With some deadlines, a little procrastination may not really matter. That’s not the case when it comes to enrolling in your annual health care plan.

With rising costs, no one wants to be caught without quality health care. So, when open enrollment rolls around every year, it’s important to make it a priority.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Every year there is a set window of time when you can sign up for a health care plan. This special timeframe is called open enrollment, because anyone can (and should) sign up for coverage for the next year.

Outside open enrollment, you can’t sign up unless you have a “life event.” If you change jobs, get married or have a baby, you can get health insurance during a special enrollment period. Act quickly, though. You only have 60 days after your life event to enroll.

Why the Strict Deadlines?

Organizing and limiting enrollment periods to small windows of time help insurers optimize benefits for their members. They can negotiate the best possible prices for medications, supplies, services and care when they know how many people they are serving. Open enrollment helps make all this possible.

What About Medicare?

Medicare has its own enrollment period. This year, annual enrollment is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. In addition, there are different enrollment dates for all the different parts (Medicare Part A and Part B), Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D). Some dates apply to people who are new to Medicare. Others are for people who already have it. Some dates are tied to the date you turn 65. Some enrollment periods are annual. You can find all the details at bcbsmt.com/medicare.

Do Employers Have Open Enrollment?

Yes! Open enrollment lets companies offer their best policies and services. It also gives employees a chance to change their plan. After the company’s open enrollment, employees must have a “life event” to change their coverage.

Just Like Clockwork

For many companies, annual open enrollment takes place from Nov. 1 through mid-December. Dates can change, so be sure to check. Put your dates on the calendar so it doesn’t sneak up on you.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) spends most of the year hard at work getting ready for open enrollment. Starting in early spring, we start to fine tune everything. We listen to your feedback. We adjust the benefits we offer. We go through the forms we ask you to fill out. We look at how and when to tell you about our plans. No detail is too small. We know details matter.

Help Us Help You Get Ready

Be sure you get and keep the health insurance that works best for you.

Do you have everything you need to decide?

Originally published 7/1/2015: Revised 2018, 2021,2023