• Sasha Kudler

Benefits 101: What is Open Enrollment?



It’s November 1st, and open enrollment season is underway — or so you’ve probably heard. But what is open enrollment, and what does it have to do with your benefits?

Here’s a simple explanation of open enrollment, and a brief breakdown of the open enrollment periods you should be keeping your eye out for.

What is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment refers to the period in which employees (and individuals) can choose their health care coverage for the coming year. Usually, that’ll fall into one of three categories: signing up for a new plan, making changes to a current plan, and/or dropping out of an old plan. This is also generally the time when you’ll sign up for or update contributions to other fringe benefits, like an FSA or HSA.

If an employee doesn’t sign up for a specific kind of coverage or benefit during the open enrollment period, they’ll generally have to wait till the following year to get it (though there are always exceptions).

Still, better to be safe than sorry! Don’t just blindly sign up for the same plan as last year — take some time to look over all your options, and make a decision that reflects your needs for the coming year.

When is Open Enrollment?

This question can be a little open-ended, depending on who you’re getting your health insurance from. Here are the most common open enrollment periods:

  • Marketplace plans and individual plans: Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 in most states (some states, like California, go through January 31st)

  • Employer-sponsored health insurance: These are up to the discretion of your employer, but will typically take place in the fall, and will typically last for 30-45 days, though there’s no set time limit

  • Medicare: Oct. 15 to Dec. 7

Again, there are some exceptions to these deadlines, but generally once open enrollment ends, your coverage is set in stone for the year. So do your research, and do it early!

Any questions about how you can provide better (and easier to navigate) benefits for your employees? We want to hear them! You can reach us at support@getbenepass.com.

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