Annual Enrollment Period
An annual enrollment period is a set time period each year when people may enroll in a medical insurance plan. Under most circumstances, enrollment is not allowed outside of the annual enrollment period. Not all health plans have annual enrollment periods.
The annual enrollment period for Affordable Care Act health plans is November 1st through December 15th of each year. For Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans, the annual enrollment period lasts from October 15th to December 7th. Healthcare sharing ministries and short-term health plans have no predefined enrollment period.
An association health plan is not required to have annual enrollment period but it is free to have one if it so chooses.
An annual enrollment period is one of the tactics used by a health plan to avoid situations where a person would wait until he or she is sick and needs health care before enrolling. Instead, an annual enrollment period requires people to enroll before the beginning of the coverage period. If they fail to do so, they would normally be excluded from health plan participation until the next enrollment period.
If a health plan has an annual enrollment period, it also has special enrollment periods.