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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

2019 Open Enrollment Dates

September 25, 2018
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With this year’s open enrollment just around the corner, you might be wondering which deadlines apply to you.

Open enrollment is a vital time for anyone shopping for coverage because it’s the only time you can sign up for individual health insurance outside of special circumstances. If you miss the deadline, you must experience a qualifying life event to trigger a special enrollment period, or wait another year to enroll in a policy.

Employees who will be covered by a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA) in 2019 should keep this in mind as well. Open enrollment is the best time to purchase a policy and ensure all QSEHRA reimbursements will be tax-free for the year.

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

Residents in states using the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, have from November 1 to December 15 to choose and purchase a policy.

States using HealthCare.gov include:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

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 2019.

State exchange open enrollment dates

Many states running their own health insurance exchange have decided to extend open enrollment by at least a week. Some, though, are using the official federal timeline.

These states—and their enrollment dates—are:

  • California: October 15, 2018, to January 15, 2019
  • Colorado: November 1, 2018, to January 15, 2019
  • Connecticut: November 1, 2018, to December 15, 2018
  • Idaho: November 1, 2018, to December 15, 2018
  • Maryland: November 1, 2018, to December 15, 2018
  • Massachusetts: November 1, 2018, to January 23, 2019
  • Minnesota: November 1, 2018, to January 13, 2019
  • New York: November 1, 2018, to January 31, 2019
  • Rhode Island: November 1, 2018, to December 31, 2018
  • Vermont: November 1, 2018, to December 15, 2018
  • Washington: November 1, 2018, to December 15, 2018
  • Washington, DC: November 1, 2018, to January 31, 2019

If you’re a resident in one of these states, you can also expect your coverage to begin on a different date depending on when you purchased your 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, 2018 January 15, 2019
Colorado December 15, 2018 January 15, 2019  
Connecticut December 15, 2018
Idaho December 15, 2018
Maryland December 15, 2018
Massachusetts December 23, 2018 January 23, 2019
Minnesota December 15, 2018 January 13, 2019
New York December 15, 2018 January 15, 2019 January 31, 2019
Rhode Island December 31, 2018
Vermont December 15, 2018
Washington December 15, 2018
Washington, DC December 15, 2018 January 15, 2019 January 31, 2019

Open enrollment and QSEHRAs

Individuals participating in a company QSEHRA in 2019 must have minimum essential coverage (MEC) in place to receive QSEHRA reimbursements tax-free. Open enrollment is often the best time to secure MEC.

If employees already have a policy that meets MEC (through a spouse’s employer-sponsored plan or a parent’s plan), they won’t need to purchase an individual policy to get tax-free reimbursements.

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?

Those who miss 2019 open enrollment will need to wait until 2020 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.

Because of these requirements, it's vital that anyone who wants to have coverage under an individual policy with MEC in 2019 purchase a policy during this window.

Looking for more details on the QSEHRA?
Check out our in-depth QSEHRA resource.
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