November 1 marked the start of the 2018 open enrollment season—the period in which anyone can sign up for individual health insurance.
Open enrollment is a vital time for anyone shopping for coverage. Those who miss the deadline must either experience a qualifying life event to trigger a special enrollment period or wait another year to enroll in a policy.
And for those who will be covered by a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA) in 2018, now is the time to purchase a policy and ensure all QSEHRA reimbursements will be tax-free for the year.
But there are some important changes to this year's open enrollment to bear in mind. Residents in states using the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, have just 45 days to choose and purchase a policy.
Residents in some other states may have longer, according to the decisions made by state officials.
In this post, we'll go over each state's open enrollment dates as well as other information relating to QSEHRAs and alternate enrollment options.
HealthCare.gov open enrollment dates
For states using HealthCare.gov—as well as two other states with their own exchanges—the open enrollment dates for 2018 are November 1 through December 15.
These states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
As long as residents in these states enroll by December 15, their coverage will begin on January 1 and they will qualify as insured in 2018.
State exchange open enrollment dates
All remaining states have chosen to extend open enrollment by at least a week.
These states—and their enrollment dates—are:
- California: November 1, 2017, to January 31, 2018
- Colorado: November 1, 2017, to January 12, 2018
- Connecticut: November 1, 2017, to December 22, 2017
- Massachusetts: November 1, 2017, to January 23, 2018
- Minnesota: November 1, 2017, to January 14, 2018
- New York: November 1, 2017, to January 31, 2018
- Rhode Island: November 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017
- Washington: November 1, 2017, to January 14, 2018
- Washington, DC: November 1, 2017, to January 31, 2018
Residents in these states can also expect their coverage to begin on different dates, depending on when they purchased their policy.
Here's a table with that information.
|State||January 1 effective date deadline||February 1 effective date deadline||March 1 effective date deadline|
|California||December 15, 2017||January 15, 2018||January 31, 2018|
|Colorado||December 15, 2017||January 12, 2018||—|
|Connecticut||December 22, 2017||—||—|
|Massachusetts||December 23, 2017||January 23, 2018||—|
|Minnesota||December 20, 2017||January 14, 2018||—|
|New York||December 15, 2017||January 15, 2018||January 31, 2018|
|Rhode Island||December 31, 2017||—||—|
|Washington||December 15, 2017||January 15, 2018||—|
|Washington, DC||December 15, 2017||January 15, 2018||January 31, 2018|
Open enrollment and QSEHRAs
Individuals who will participate in a company QSEHRA in 2018 must have minimum essential coverage (MEC) in place to receive QSEHRA reimbursements tax-free.
While MEC doesn't have to come from an individual policy—individuals could be covered by a spouse's group policy, for example—many QSEHRA participants do get their coverage this way.
After purchasing a policy, individuals should submit verification information to their company. They can then receive reimbursement for their monthly premiums, as well as all other qualified expenses, tax-free.
Without MEC, individuals can still participate in a QSEHRA, but they must report reimbursements as taxable income.
What if I miss open enrollment?
Individuals who miss 2018 open enrollment must wait until 2019 open enrollment to purchase an individual health insurance policy with MEC.
The only other way to purchase a policy is to trigger a special enrollment period by experiencing a qualifying life event. You can read more about that here.
For these reasons, it's vital that all those who want to have coverage under an individual policy with MEC in 2018 purchase a policy as soon as possible.