REMINDER: Open Enrollment starts OCTOBER 15th in California, NOVEMBER 1st everywhere else!

The official annual ACA Open Enrollment Period (OEP) starting and ending dates have jumped around a lot since the exchanges kicked off back on October 1, 2013.

For the first OEP, people were given 6 months since the technology and the process were brand new to everyone...and thank God they were given the technical mess that the federal exchange (HealthCare.Gov) as well as many of the state-based exchanges experienced at launch. Things were eventually worked out, but not only was that extra time in spring 2014 vitally important, many people still needed some extra time beyond that as well. The official deadline to enroll for 2014 coverage was March 31, but the HHS Dept. gave people who had started their application by then an extra 15-day "overtime" period to complete the process.

For the 2015 OEP, the official dates were from November 15 - February 15th, cutting the time period down to three months. This time there was a one-week "overtime" period tacked onto the end.

For 2016 and 2017, HHS settled on November 1st - January 31st, which seemed to make sense since it was easier to remember: November, December, January.

For the 2018 OEP and beyond, however, under the Trump Administration, the formal OEP window was cut in half again, down to just six weeks: November 1st - December 15th. However, of the twelve states which operate their own full ACA exchange platform, nine of them bumped out their deadlines by at least a week, and three of them (CA, DC and NY) stuck with the full three-month period.

For 2019, Nov. 1 - Dec. 15 is still the official window for most states, but several extensions have again been announced, with others possibly coming in the future. Louise Norris has the latest skinny on the start/end dates, which I've used to whip up the graphic below:

  • California: For reasons unknown, the Golden State has decided to start their OEP two weeks earlier than everyone else, on October 15th, ending on January 15th.
  • Rhode Island is starting on November 1st but will let people keep signing up right until New Year's Eve on December 31st.
  • Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts are all starting on November 1st but are bumping their final deadlines out to January 13th, 15th and 23rd respectively.
  • The District of Columbia and New York are again sticking with the simple 3-month November/December/January calendar.
  • Connecticut, Idaho, Vermont and Washington State all appear to be sticking with the official December 15th deadline, though this could change.
  • Maryland hasn't made any formal announcements about whether they're extending their deadlines, but they did so last year.