- Open enrollment runs from November 1 to January 15 in most states.
- Fully state-run exchanges (there are now 18 of them) have the flexibility to set their own OEP schedule.
- For some health coverage programs, and for some applicants, enrollment is available year-round.
- Outside of open enrollment, you normally need a qualifying event to enroll.
- The open enrollment windows have varied over the years.
What is the deadline to enroll in 2023 ACA-compliant health insurance coverage in the individual market?
Open enrollment for 2023 health coverage began in nearly every state on November 1, 2022. (some exceptions: It started on October 15 in Idaho, and on November 16 in New York. And in California, open enrollment began November 1 but existing policyholders could begin renewing their coverage as of October 1.) In most states, open enrollment for 2023 coverage ended on January 15, 2023, but there were some exceptions, described below.
And in most states, December 15 was the deadline to get a plan that takes effect January 1; enrollments completed in the latter half of December and the first half of January took effect February 1 instead. But there are some exceptions to this:
- In New Jersey, Maryland, California, Rhode Island, and Nevada, coverage was effective January 1 as long as the application was completed by December 31.
- In Massachusetts and New Mexico, the deadline for a January 1 effective date was December 23.
Open enrollment used to end on December 15 in most states, but the Biden administration added a one-month extension that took effect for the 2022 plan year and will continue to be used from now on. This applies to the 33 states that use HealthCare.gov. The other 17 states and DC are free to follow that same schedule — most do — or set their own schedule.
What are the Obamacare open enrollment deadlines for state-run exchanges?
The states that run their own exchanges can set their own enrollment deadline, as long as it’s not earlier than December 15. For 2023 coverage, as was the case for 2022 coverage, 18 fully state-run exchanges had the option to set their own open enrollment schedules.
Most of these state-run exchanges choose to follow the same November 1 – January 15 schedule that HealthCare.gov uses. But some opted for different schedules. Here are the open enrollment windows that the state-run exchanges are using for 2023 coverage. (Dates that vary from the HealthCare.gov schedule are shown in bold font):
- California: November 1 to January 31 (renewals began October 1)
- Colorado: November 1 to January 15
- Connecticut: November 1 to January 15
- District of Columbia: November 1 to January 31 (uninsured residents can enroll anytime through the end of the COVID public health emergency)
- Idaho: October 15 to December 15 (Idaho is the only state where open enrollment ends in December)
- Kentucky: November 1 to January 15
- Maine: November 1 to January 15
- Maryland: November 1 to January 15
- Massachusetts: November 1 to January 23
- Minnesota: November 1 to January 15
- Nevada: November 1 to January 15
- New Jersey: November 1 to January 31
- New Mexico: November 1 to January 15
- New York: November 16 to May 11, 2023 (enrollment began later; enrollment for 2023 also open throughout COVID public health emergency)
- Pennsylvania: November 1 to January 15
- Rhode Island: November 1 to January 31
- Vermont: November 1 to January 15
- Washington: November 1 to January 15
Who can enroll in ACA-compliant health plans year-round?
Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is available year-round to eligible residents.
Year-round enrollment is also available in the Basic Health Programs in New York and Minnesota. Enrollment is also available year-round for the ConnectorCare program in Massachusetts, for people who are newly eligible or who haven’t enrolled before. And enrollment in Connecticut’s Covered Connecticut program is also available year-round for eligible applicants.
Native Americans and Alaska Natives can enroll year-round in plans offered in the exchange. Applicants who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP can also enroll year-round.
And CMS has finalized a new rule that allows subsidy-eligible applicants with income up to 150% of the poverty level to enroll year-round, as long as the American Rescue Plan’s subsidy enhancements remain in effect. The Inflation Reduction Act has extended the subsidy enhancement through 2025, so the low-income special enrollment period will also continue through 2025. This special enrollment period is optional for state-run exchanges, although most of them offer it and some of them extend it to higher income levels due to the availability of additional state-funded subsidies that result in premium-free benchmark plans even at incomes above 150% of the poverty level.
Does Obamacare open enrollment continue through January 15 in all states?
HHS had previously defined open enrollment as the window from November 1 to December 15, but state-run exchanges have had the option to offer special enrollment periods before or after that window, in order to effectively extend open enrollment.
For coverage effective in 2022 and future years, HHS has changed the enrollment window for HealthCare.gov. It’s now November 1 through January 15. But instead of requiring state-run exchanges to use an enrollment window at least that long, HHS has given them the option of keeping an earlier deadline, as long as it’s not before December 15. This is why Idaho is allowed to continue to have a mid-December enrollment deadline. But all of the rest of the state-run exchanges have opted to extend their enrollment deadlines to January 15 or later.
Fully state-run exchanges are the only ones with the ability to extend open enrollment on their own (in the other states, the decision has to come from CMS, since the extension has to be issued via HealthCare.gov), and most of them have been choosing to do so each year. But now that HHS has extended the HealthCare.gov deadline to January 15 for 2022 and future years, many of the state-run exchanges are using that date rather than issuing additional extensions.
Outside of ACA’s open enrollment window, enrollment’s only available with a qualifying event
After open enrollment ends, people can normally only purchase coverage if they have a special enrollment period triggered by a qualifying event such as:
- Marriage (since 2017, this generally only applies if at least one spouse already had coverage before the wedding, although there are some exceptions),
- Becoming a U.S. citizen,
- Birth or adoption,
- Involuntary loss of other health coverage.
- A permanent move to an area where new health plans are available (since July 2016, this only applies in most cases if you already had coverage prior to your move).
- Here’s a complete guide to qualifying events in the individual market, and their associated special enrollment periods.
Regardless of whether you purchase insurance through the exchange or off-exchange, the annual open enrollment window applies, and special enrollment periods are necessary in order to enroll at any other time of the year.
Open enrollment schedule has varied over time
Although open enrollment is now set at November 1 – January 15 in most states, it has varied quite a bit over the years. In the federally-run marketplaces, the following enrollment windows have been used (with some last-minute extensions, and with somewhat different schedules used by the state-run marketplaces):
- 2014 coverage: October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014
- 2015 coverage: November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015
- 2016 coverage: November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016
- 2017 coverage: November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017
- 2018 coverage: November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017
- 2019 coverage: November 1, 2018 through December 15, 2018
- 2020 coverage: November 1, 2019 through December 15, 2019
- 2021 coverage: November 1, 2020 through December 15, 2020
- 2022 coverage: November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022
- 2023 coverage: November 1, 2022 through January 15, 2023
Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health insurance marketplace updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.