Covered California 2019 Open Enrollment Period: October 15 – January 15

Individual Health Insurance Covered California

Open enrollment is the period during which people can purchase health insurance for the upcoming year. During Open Enrollment you can apply without a Qualifying Life Event.

When Is the Open Enrollment Period for Obamacare 2019?

Open Enrollment for Covered California begins on October 15, 2018 and continues until January 15, 2019.

open enrollment period 2019

What if I want to apply and it’s not Open Enrollment?

The only other way to buy an insurance plan outside of open enrollment is to qualify for special enrollment. This time frame is called the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). This exception allows you to apply for health insurance if you’ve had certain qualifying life events, such as:

  • Losing your job
  • Moving to a new state
  • Getting married or divorced
  • Becoming a widow or widower
  • Aging off your parent’s plan
  • Having a new baby

Note that you won’t be eligible for special enrollment if you lost your previous health plan because you failed to pay your monthly premiums or if you voluntarily cancelled the coverage.

What Are Your Options During Open Enrollment?

Depending on your current situation, you have the following options.

  • Buy a plan through Covered California. You may want to buy a plan through the marketplace if you qualify for a tax credit to help offset your premiums. Qualifying usually depends on your income and household size. Your total household income must be between 128% and 400% of the federal poverty level, or FPL.

  • Renew or change your current plan. During the open enrollment period, you can renew your existing plan. You won’t have to do anything if you want to keep what you have. But if your current plan is changing — for instance, your PCP is leaving the network, or your drugs aren’t in the list of covered medications — then you may want to switch to a plan that best suits your current needs. If you need to change policies, the open enrollment period is the best time.

  • Enroll in Medi-Cal. If your income is below 128% of the Federal Poverty Level, you qualify for Medi-Cal, which is Medicaid for Californians.

Which Health Insurance Options Don’t Use Open Enrollment?

Most health insurers in California use some sort of open enrollment program. But there are a few exceptions:

  • Medi-Cal: Medi-Cal doesn’t limit enrollment to the open enrollment period. If you’re eligible for Medi-Cal, you’re allowed to enroll anytime.

  • CHIP: The Children’s Health Insurance Program doesn’t limit enrollment to a specific time, either.

  • Short-Term Plans: Short-term health insurance such as traveler’s insurance doesn’t follow open enrollment, either. The plans are available all year round.

  • Health Care Sharing Plans: Health sharing plans like Aliera Health Care allow you to enroll at any time of the year. You cannot get subsidies with these plans; however, they often provider lower base pricing for people who do not qualify for a government discount.