The leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, and everything smells of pumpkin spice. It must be time for our favorite season: Open Enrollment. Whether you are looking to purchase health insurance for the first time, or adjusting your current plan, there are multiple things you’ll need to consider—and terms you’ll need to understand—when deciding what plan is best for you.
What is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment is the specific time frame each year during which you can select a health insurance plan or make changes to your existing plan. If you don’t receive health benefits through your employer, or your company’s health insurance does not meet your needs, you can shop for insurance and compare our plans through UPMC Health Plan’s Marketplace.
Open Enrollment begins November 1 and ends December 15. If you enroll, your coverage that will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Why is Open Enrollment important?
Your health is your most valuable asset. Regardless of your age, health status, or occupation, there are numerous benefits your health insurer can provide to help you manage your health and well-being. This six-week period is a limited time for such an important decision—that’s why it’s wise to start weighing your options now!
If you miss the Open Enrollment window, you may not be able to sign up for a plan for another year, unless you qualify for an exception. Big changes in your life may allow you to have a Special Enrollment period, which means you can buy coverage outside the Open Enrollment period. These changes are called “qualifying life events.”
What is considered a qualifying life event?
Has something big happened in your life? If you have …
- Gotten married
- Had a child
- Lost your existing health coverage (possibly due to a change in employment)
- Moved to a location where your health plan is no longer available
- Turned 26 years old and lost coverage from a parent’s plan
- Experienced anything on this longer list of qualifying life events
… then you may qualify for the opportunity to extend your Open Enrollment period. You have 60 days to find a new plan and enroll. Note that in some cases, dependents can remain on their parent’s/guardian’s plan through the remainder of the calendar year in which they turn 26. Those who are about to turn 26 should check with their current insurer to learn how long they will remain covered by that policy after their birthday.
What should I do next?
If you are new to buying insurance or want to learn more about choosing an insurance plan with full in-network access to UPMC’s world-class medical facilities, top-ranked doctors, and other respected providers in your area, call the UPMC Health Plan Open Enrollment helpline at 1-833-516-3239 or shop using the UPMC Health Plan Marketplace starting November 1.
Need a reminder when Open Enrollment starts? Click below to mark your calendar.