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4 Things to Know About Open Enrollment for Health Insurance in California

What if missing a single deadline ruined your life? 

This happens every day to Californians without health insurance. Once they get diagnosed with a serious illness, they are left with major medical debt. And the diagnosis may make it difficult to get coverage later, especially at an affordable price. 

Fortunately, those who understand how open enrollment works can maintain coverage while also ensuring they have the best and most affordable insurance each year. Sound like something you’re interested in? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about open enrollment. 

1. What Is Open Enrollment? 

Open enrollment refers to a limited window of time each year when Californians can sign up for new health insurance coverage, make changes to their current plan, or cancel their current plan. Traditionally, those who miss this window cannot buy new coverage or make any changes until the next open enrollment period, though qualifying life exceptions may allow someone to buy, adjust, or cancel coverage before then. 

As long as you stay on top of the enrollment period, you won’t have to worry about missing your chance to buy the coverage you want. This will also help you shop around and get the best possible insurance in California.  

2. Why Was Open Enrollment Created? 

Health insurance open enrollment is limited to a small window to discourage people from waiting until they are sick to purchase coverage. This is known as adverse selection and would result in carriers incurring a great deal of risk and financial burden. Customers would also face a financial burden in the form of paying more for coverage if only sick people signed up for insurance. 

Accordingly, having a limited open enrollment period encourages everyone to stay on top of their coverage each year. And collectively, this encourages everyone to actively monitor their health and make changes to their plans each year as needed. 

An African-American medical practitioner checks on a young girl while her mother looks on in an exam room

3. Open Enrollment: Important Dates You Need To Know 

In California, open enrollment begins on Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31. Compared to most states, this is effectively an extended enrollment period, but it’s still important to pay close attention to the deadlines. If you miss the Jan. 31 deadline and don’t have any qualifying life events, you’ll have to wait until the following November to purchase, change, or cancel your health insurance. 

Additionally, California residents will pay a tax penalty if they go without healthcare coverage. That means getting coverage during this enrollment window can help residents save a little money in the short term on their taxes and potentially save a lot of money down the line on expensive medical bills. 

4. What Are Qualifying Life Events? 

Normally, California residents are limited to a narrow window when enrolling in health coverage. However, those who experience a qualifying life event can buy, change, or cancel their insurance outside of the open enrollment period. 

The most common qualifying event is if you lose existing coverage, including losing your job and the employer-provided healthcare that came with it. A death in the family also qualifies because you may now have fewer people you need to cover; conversely, having a child or getting married is a qualifying event because you may now have more people you need to cover. Getting divorced is also a qualifying life event. 

Other qualifying events include changes to your citizenship status, moving to a new state (this is perfect for new California residents), and going from being a full-time employee to a part-time employee. Finally, those who turn 26 and lose their parents’ insurance can buy their own coverage, and qualifying for new subsidies (typically due to a reduction in income) also qualifies you for a special enrollment period. 

Get the Best Health Insurance Today! 

Now you know all the important open enrollment details and why this period of time is so important. But do you know where you can find the best coverage for you and your family? 

At Cost-U-Less, we’re here to help you find the coverage you need at prices you can afford. Ready to protect your health and take charge of your future? Call us at (800) 390-4071, get a fast and free health insurance quote online, or come visit us in person at a nearby office

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