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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

2016 Open Enrollment Dates and Deadlines

As part of Obamacare, there are now certain times you can purchase guaranteed-issue individual health insurance coverage.

This article outlines key dates and deadlines for getting individual health insurance health coverage during the 2015-2016 annual open enrollment period.

2016 Open Enrollment Dates and Deadlines

  • November 1, 2015: Open enrollment begins for individual health insurance (i.e. Qualified Health Plans). 

  • December 15, 2015: Deadline to apply if you would like coverage to start by January 1, 2016. *Editorial Note: This deadline was extended to December 17, 2015.
  • January 1, 2016: Earliest coverage date for plans purchased during the 2016 open enrollment period.

  • January 15, 2016: Deadline to apply if you would like coverage to start by February 1, 2016.
  • January 31, 2016: Open enrollment ends. If you miss this date, you will have to wait until fall of 2016 to enroll, unless you have a qualifying life event such as a marriage, birth of a child, significant income change, or loss of job-based health insurance. Then, you can enroll during a special enrollment period

  • October 15, 2016 - December 7, 2016: Open enrollment period for 2017 coverage (dates are reviewed annually, and are subject to change). 

Enrollment Period: From:

2016 Open Enrollment Period 

November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016

Special Enrollment Period 

Generally 60 days from qualifying life event

See this updated chart for open enrollment periods, 2015 - 2020.

FAQ: What If I Miss Open Enrollment for an Individual Health Plan?

If you miss open enrollment, you've likely missed your chance to buy coverage for the year -- unless you have a significant change in circumstance called a qualifying life event. There are several types of qualifying life events such as marriage, birth of a child, income change, loss of job-based health insurance, permanent move to a new area, etc.

If you miss the deadline, this also means you'll probably face a penalty for not having insurance (called the Individual Mandate fee).

In 2015, the fee is $325 per person up to a maximum of three times that amount for a family ($975), or 2% of household income if greater. In 2016, the fee increases to 2.5% of your income or $695 per person.

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