The 2017 open enrollment dates for buying a new health insurance plan or switching to a different healthcare plan begin November 1st, 2016, and run through January 31, 2017. That gives consumers three full months to shop for new qualified coverage on the marketplace and in the private health insurance sector. Individuals who want coverage starting January 1st, 2017, must renew coverage by December 15th, 2016, to keep their current policies in place or enroll in a different plan.
In late 2014, HealthCare.com looked at whether consumers who didn’t shop for a new health insurance plan during open enrollment and just renewed their policy to avoid re-enrolling lost out on the opportunity to actually cut their health insurance costs. The white paper study found that more than 70% of all healthcare plans had at least one identical, lower cost plan, and that consumers could save up to $700 a year in health insurance costs buy shopping for a new plan that matched the existing plan they already had.
Health insurance companies have submitted their plan rates for review, and they could, on average request 19.4% increase or more in 2017. If one insurance carrier in a certain state is increasing prices 34%, and another insurance carrier with nearly an identical plan is only increasing its pricing by 8%, which company would consumers naturally migrate towards? This is why shopping for a new health insurance plan each year can put money back into your pocket.
Shop before you can buy
Consumers do not need to wait until November 1st to begin the research process of looking for a new plan. While pricing currently on website entities like HealthCare.com are still displaying 2016 rates, plan details are available for advance research prior to the November 1st open enrollment start date. Some plan benefits may be slightly different in 2017, so saving plans you are interested in or downloading plan details in advance of the shopping season is advised. When comparing healthcare plans, look for the differences among the areas that will cost you the most out of your own pocket: deductible, coinsurance, maximum out of pocket, and if applicable pharmacy deductibles and copays.
Special circumstances for open enrollment
For individuals who need health insurance before January 2016, there are special circumstances that allow consumers to enroll in a healthcare plan right now:
- Lost coverage from an employer
- Got married or divorced
- Moved to a new ZIP code
- Had a baby, adopted a child or had other family changes
- Income has changed and you need to adjust your subsidy
To receive the latest updates on the 2017 enrollment period and future changes as they happen in the news, follow @HealthCareInc on Twitter.