Open enrollment for 2020 health plans is happening now. For most states, the deadline to enroll in a new plan under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is December 15, 2019. The following states are exceptions to this rule:
- California: January 15, 2020 (permanent extension)
- Colorado: January 15, 2020 (permanent extension)
- District of Columbia: January 31, 2020 (permanent extension)
- Idaho: December 16, 2019
- Massachusetts: January 23, 2020
- Minnesota: December 23, 2019
- New York: January 31, 2020
- Rhode Island: December 31, 2019
Some States May Extend Their Open Enrollment Deadline
The thirteen states that don’t use the federal health insurance exchange at HealthCare.gov have the flexibility to extend their open enrollment deadline. In the past, many have done so at the last moment. The states with their own exchanges for 2020 are:
- District of Columbia
- New York
- Rhode Island
Though the open enrollment deadlines in these states may shift, the best strategy is to start reviewing your plan options as soon as you can. Even if you like the coverage you’ve got now, plan details change from year to year and new insurers have joined the marketplace in many states. So you may want to set aside some time to compare what’s available, rather than simply allowing your current plan to auto-renew.
Keep in mind, too, that six of these states have passed laws requiring you to carry health insurance for 2020. If you live in a state with an insurance mandate and you’re not covered, you may face a tax penalty when you file in 2021.
Ways to Learn About 2020 Health Plans
There are several good ways to learn about your health plan options for the coming year:
1. Visit your state’s health insurance exchange. After years of technical snafus, most health insurance marketplace websites are now working well. In most cases, your exchange website will take you through the shopping and application process without a hitch. The links in the section just above will take you to the health insurance marketplace for your state.
2. Compare plans at Legal Consumer. If your state uses HealthCare.gov — again, that’s every state but the 13 listed just above — you can visit our website to see all the plans and rates for your zip code. Our browsing tool doesn’t require you to enter your email or any other personal information — just type in your zip code and go.
3. Get in-person help. If you need help understanding your coverage options or signing up for a plan, you can get assistance from a trained enrollment assistant or from a health insurance broker or agent. These services are free.
- Enrollment assistants, often called “Navigators,” can explain your options, answer your questions, and help you apply for the plan you choose — but they can’t recommend a specific plan for you.
- Licensed health insurance agents or brokers can also help you understand your health care coverage options. Unlike government-trained navigators and counselors, however, brokers and agents are allowed to suggest plans for you. Being allowed to “cut to the chase” this way can help make the process more efficient for you, but don’t sign up for a plan without reading and understanding the coverage details for yourself. To directly connect with a local insurance broker who can help you evaluate insurance plans and choose a plan that’s appropriate for your situation, call . (Heads up: We do receive advertising income from the licensed brokers who offer their services through this telephone number.)
To find help in your area, go to Find Local Help at HealthCare.gov or the equivalent page at any state-run exchange. (Every state offers this kind of resource.) Then, you can enter your city and state or zip code to get a list of navigators, insurance agents, and brokers near you.
For more help finding an affordable health plan where you live, see our Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) learning center.