2017 Open Enrollment Period for Obamacare

by John Hansen

The 2017 Obamacare Open Enrollment Period begins November 1, 2016 and goes until January 31, 2017. For health insurance consumers, they will have three months to apply for Obama Care.

During the 2017 Covered California open enrollment period, consumers can apply for health insurance or change plans without having a qualifying life event.

Change Plans

If you’ve been seeing the doctor a bit more than you expected, you might want to up your coverage. If you’re paying more in premiums than you’d like, you might want to drop down to a cheaper health insurance plan.

Or, you might want to move only some family members to a different plan. For family health plans in California, in 2017 households will be able to enroll different family members on different plans through their online Covered California account.

Rates Going Up in 2017

Covered California rates are going up on average 13% in 2017, so many consumers are expected to make changes in order to lower their monthly premiums. Most of this movement will occur during the 13 weeks of the 2017 Open Enrollment Period.Covered California Open Enrollment Numbers 2014-2016

If you’re currently on Anthem or Blue Shield, it might be time to think about switching carriers as their rates will be hardest hit. Anthem Blue Cross rates in California are going up on average 17.2%, and Blue Shield California rates are going up an average of 19.9%.

There are different things you can do to lower your premiums during the 2017 Open Enrollment Period. If you’re on a PPO, you might want to switch to an HMO. If you’re on a Gold or Platinum plan, you might want to drop down to Silver or Bronze.

Special Enrollment Period

Some individuals and families apply for health insurance outside of the 92 days of Obamacare Open Enrollment, during what is called the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). To apply during SEP, you will need a qualifying life event such as marriage, adoption, relocation or loss of coverage.

Open Enrollment #4

2017 will be the fourth Obamacare Open Enrollment Period. The largest influx of new applications came during OE 2014 when so many new enrollees were entering the state and federal exchanges.

In 2014, there were 1,395,929 applicants and there were 495,073 in 2015. During the 2016 Open Enrollment Period, there were 439,400 who submitted the Covered California Application.

What will the 2017 Open Enrollment be like?

In 2017, we are expecting a lot of people to change plans. There will likely be movement from PPO’s to HMO’s as well as movement from Anthem Blue Cross / Blue Shield to more affordable carriers like Kaiser Permanente and Molina Healthcare.

As far as the number of new enrollments in 2017, that is difficult to predict. Each year more and more have entered the health insurance marketplace leaving fewer and fewer uninsured.

However, there still are many who have no health insurance in California and the nation. These uninsured are starting to feel the pain of the health insurance penalty more and more.

The uninsured paid a 1% penalty in 2015 for not being covered in 2014. This year, in 2016 the penalty for not being insured in 2015 doubled as it went to 2%.

The increasing severity of the penalty may have gotten the attention of many uninsured in the market. So, we may see these individuals sign up during the 2017 Open Enrollment Period to avoid getting the penalty for no health insurance in future years.


Not sure how Obamacare affects your health care plans in California? Learn how the ACA works in California, including benefits, costs and enrollment.

Covered California is the Golden State’s official health exchange marketplace where individuals, families and small businesses can find high-quality, low-cost California government health insurance.

Learn about Obamacare income guidelines in California using our income limits chart, and see if you’re eligible for government assistance.

Learn about the Covered California website. Find easy online enrollment. Set up your account, log in, buy insurance and more on the California health marketplace website.