It’s Time To Check On Your Health Insurance!

Blue and white medical symbol on a red background with text: "2019 Open Enrollment November 1 - December 15"

2019 Open Enrollment Begins November 1, 2018


November 1, 2018

If you’re uninsured or looking for more affordable health insurance, the “open enrollment” period is the time to visit, or your state’s marketplace or health insurance exchange. During “open enrollment” you can review private health insurance options and purchase coverage. People with low and moderate incomes may be able to get financial help to pay for health insurance coverage. This includes help with the cost of premiums and possibly also reduced cost sharing, depending on your income. If you get health insurance through your employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, you are not eligible for this assistance.


2019 Open Enrollment

  • November 1, 2018 – Open enrollment begins
  • December 15, 2018 – Open enrollment ends
  • January 1, 2019 – Coverage begins


For many people, open enrollment is the only time to change insurance plans or buy new coverage during the year. However, you can sign up for insurance outside of open enrollment if you lose your job, get married, divorced, have a baby, or experience another major life event. You may also enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) year-round.


Do all states have the same open enrollment dates?

Most states have enrollment periods from November 1 to December 15, but some states have longer enrollment periods. States with extended open enrollments periods are:

  • California: Oct. 15, 2018 – Jan. 15, 2019
  • Colorado: Nov. 1, 2018 – Jan. 15, 2019
  • Washington, DC: Nov. 1, 2018 — Jan. 31, 2019
  • Massachusetts: Nov. 1, 2018 – Jan. 23, 2019
  • Minnesota: Nov. 1, 2018 – Jan. 13, 2019
  • New York: Nov. 1, 2018 — Jan. 31, 2019
  • Rhode Island: Nov. 1, 2018 – Dec. 31, 2018


If you have a disability or a health condition, plan details and any annual changes matter. Be sure to ask before you select a plan:

  • Are a broad range of health care providers included in the health plan’s provider network?
  • Are there enough medical specialists in the network to meet your specific needs?
  • Are the medications you need included in the plan’s list of covered drugs? Has the cost sharing changed? Are there other requirements like prior authorization?
  • Is there adequate access to non-clinical, disability-specific services and supports?
  • Does the plan have service limits, such as caps or limits on the number of office visits, the amount of therapy services, or exclusions for medical devices?
  • Are mental health services covered to the same extent as other “physical” health benefits?

This year, there will be plans for sale in some states that are NOT required to provide all of the benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act. These plans may be able to charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition, and may not offer adequate coverage for your needs or if you get sick. It is more important than ever to thoroughly review what benefits a plan offers and not only look at plans with low premiums.


I already have health insurance through the Marketplace. Do I need to do something?

  • It is important to update your income and household information in the Marketplace to make sure you get all the assistance available to you.
  • This is also a good time to check your health insurance coverage and see if it still meets your healthcare needs.
  • If a new plan does not cover your providers or services, investigate your right to change plans.
  • You should carefully read all health insurance notices and updates.
  • If your income has increased, updating your information with the Marketplace will help avoid payment penalties later.


I and/or my family members are uninsured. Can we sign up?

Most individuals can get health insurance coverage regardless of pre-existing health conditions or prior denial of coverage. Just go to, enter your information, and review insurance options. Each plan should provide information on monthly premiums, deductibles, provider networks, hospitals, and covered medications. Only individuals who live in the United States and are U.S. citizens, nationals, or non-citizens who are lawfully present, and are also not currently incarcerated, may apply. If you were uninsured during the prior year, you may be subject to a state fee for not having coverage.


Where can I go to get help?

Purchasing health insurance can be complicated. If you or your family member needs assistance with understanding the options, can help. Each state has health insurance “navigators” to help people enroll in health insurance plans. Individual health plan information should be available in late October 2018 on the website. If you would like more information on specific topics, the National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative has a comprehensive set of materials available on disability issues and the Affordable Care Act.


Phone: 1-800-318-2596 (Available 24/7 with access to 150 languages)

TTY: 1-855-889-4325

In-Person Assistance Resources:


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This post was developed with content provided by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD).

Healthcare Open Enrollment #5 – Changes and Challenges

October 13, 2017 | Chris Corsi, AAPD intern


Open Enrollment (OE) 5 begins on November 1, 2017.

From November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017 (in most states), individuals will be able to purchase health insurance through the marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Enrollment Changes in 2018


2018 ACA Open Enrollment starts November 1, 2017 in all 50 states and DC

It ends on December 15, 2017 in all states except:

California (1/31/18)

Colorado (1/12/2018)

Connecticut (12/22/2017)

District of Columbia (1/31/2018)

Massachusetts (1/23/2018)

Minnesota (1/14/2018)

New York (1/31/2018)

Rhode Island (12/31/2017)

Washington (1/15/2018)

*Special enrollment period (12/16/2017 – 12/31/2017) available for hurricane victims*


There are a number of changes that have occurred to the 2018 OE period, which will run from November 1st to December 15th in most states.

Shorter Enrollment Period. The first major change is a shorter enrollment period. The 2018 enrollment period was originally scheduled to run November 1, 2017 through January 31, 2018. However, the Department of Health and Human Services cut the period in half so that it only runs until December 15, 2017. This means it is crucial to get information out to individuals about OE5 before and during the open enrollment period since individuals will have less time to sign up for ACA healthcare.

Cuts to the outreach, education, and enrollment budget. The second change refers to a series of deep budget cuts that happened in late August. These cuts include a 90% reduction for marketplace advertising, a 42% cut for (the website that allows individuals to sign up for health insurance), and a $25.7 million cut to Navigators (trained individuals that help guide people through the ACA sign-up process).

Website Outages. It was recently announced that the federal health insurance exchange – – will be shut down for maintenance once a week, every week for 12 hours, during the open enrollment period. With the already shorten open enrollment period, these outages will make it even more difficult for people to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace.

These changes will suppress marketplace enrollment and will likely limit the number of people who gain health insurance. Having less people sign up for coverage could lead to less-balanced risk pools and higher costs.


What does this mean for people with disabilities?

The ACA has helped, and continues to help, people with disabilities in a number of ways. Providing protections for people with pre-existing conditions opened the door for many people with disabilities to receive affordable, comprehensive health insurance. The ACA also eliminated lifetime benefit limits, meaning there were no caps to the amount of money one could receive in a lifetime from an insurer. Medicaid expansion in 32 states, including Washington, DC, provided individuals with incomes at or below 138% of the poverty line affordable healthcare. These provisions resulted in 20 million people gaining health insurance by January of this year.

Government health insurance is extremely important to people with disabilities – in 2015 58.3% of adults with disabilities had government health insurance compared to 17.4% of adults without disabilities. Shortening the Open Enrollment period and cutting funding means less uninsured individuals will have the opportunity to enroll in health insurance, and fewer individuals will be able to take advantage of the opportunities ACA has created for people with disabilities.


What can we do now?

Help spread the word about Open Enrollment Period #5! While a significant amount of funding has been cut and the enrollment period shortened, we can make a difference by spreading information through our own networks. Post to Facebook or send a Tweet about the Open Enrollment period. Ask your friends and family if they have health insurance. Every effort helps!


Open Enrollment Resources

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