When is Open Enrollment 2021?

Updated on: October 22nd, 2020

We want to help you make educated healthcare decisions. While this post may have links to lead generation forms, this won’t influence our writing. We adhere to strict editorial standards to provide the most accurate and unbiased information. 

What You Need to Know 

For most states, the 2021 Open Enrollment Period 2021 runs from November 1, 2020, to December 15, 2020. During these six weeks you can sign up for health insurance, renew your current plan or change to a different plan. 

States that run their own Health Insurance Exchange may have longer Open Enrollment Periods.

Once the Open Enrollment Period ends, you may be able to purchase a health insurance plan under a Special Enrollment Period if you’ve had a life-changing event or been impacted by a national emergency.

What is an Open Enrollment Period for Health Insurance? 

In romance, timing is everything. And, to some extent, the same can be said of buying health insurance. In general, if you’re purchasing your own health insurance for yourself or your family the only time you can sign for an insurance plan or change to a different plan is during what’s known as the Open Enrollment Period (OEP). This is true whether your purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace or exchange, also known as Obamacare health insurance, or directly through an insurance company.  

There are some exceptions for major life events like moving, losing a job or having a baby. Those changes will make you eligible to purchase health insurance during a Special Enrollment Period. 

But, if you haven’t experienced one of these life-changing events and you  miss the annual OEP you’ll have to wait until Open Enrollment the following year to sign up for health insurance. 

When Is Open Enrollment Dates in Your State? 

For most states, the Open Enrollment Period runs from November 1, 2020, to December 15, 2020. If you sign up for new insurance, or change plans, during this six-week span your new coverage will begin on January 1, 2021.

 Some states—14 in all—have set up their own health insurance exchange and do not use the federal exchange. Several of these states have expanded their OEP, as has Washington, D.C, to start before and/or remain open after the federal OEP. If you live in these areas, you’ll have a longer window to purchase health insurance in 2021. If you apply for health insurance after December 15, your coverage may start later than January 1; likely, on February 1 or February 15, 2021.  

You’ll want to pay attention to when premiums are due. Your coverage won’t start until you pay your first premium and it’s important to make sure you continue to pay your monthly premiums on time to avoid gaps in coverage or cancellation. 

Here’s a state-by-state look at the Open Enrollment Period in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. 

ALABAMA

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE: December 15, 2020

COVERAGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

ARKANSAS

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE: December 15, 2020

COVERAGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

ARIZONA

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE: December 15, 2020

COVERAGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

CALIFORNIA

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE: January 31, 2021

COVERAGE BEGINS: December 15 is the last day to enroll for coverage that starts January 1 and January 15 is the last day of enrollment for coverage that starts February 15.

COLORADO

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE: January 15, 2021

COVERAGE BEGINS: December 15 is the last day for coverage that starts January 1. 

CONNECTICUT

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE:  N/A

COVERAGE BEGINS: 

DELAWARE

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

FLORIDA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

GEORGIA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

HAWAII

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

IDAHO

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERAGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

ILLINOIS

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

INDIANA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

IOWA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

KANSAS

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

KENTUCKY

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

LOUISIANA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

MAINE

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

MARYLAND

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021 

MASSACHUSETTS

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE: N/A 

COVERAGE BEGINS: N/A

MICHIGAN

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

MINNESOTA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 22, 2020

COVERAGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021 

MISSISSIPPI

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

MONTANA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

NEBRASKA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

NEVADA

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE:  January 15, 2021

COVERAGE BEGINS: For coverage beginning January 1, 2021, you must enroll by December 31

NEW HAMPSHIRE

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

NEW JERSEY

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE:  January 31, 2021

COVERAGE BEGINS: n/a

NEW MEXICO

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

NEW YORK

START DATE:  November 1, 2021 

END DATE:  January 31, 2021

COVERAGE BEGINS: N/A

NORTH CAROLINA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

NORTH DAKOTA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

OHIO

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

OKLAHOMA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

OREGON

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

PENNSYLVANIA

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE: January 15, 2021

COVERAGE BEGINS: December 15, 2020, is the last day to apply for coverage that begins January 1, 2021; January 15, 2021, is the last date to apply for coverage that starts February 1, 2021. 

RHODE ISLAND

START DATE: November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERAGE BEGINS: January 1, 2021

SOUTH CAROLINA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

SOUTH DAKOTA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

TENNESSEE

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

TEXAS

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

UTAH

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

VERMONT

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERAGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

VIRGINIA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

WASHINGTON

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  January 15, 2021

COVERAGE BEGINS: December 15, 2020, is the last day to apply for coverage that begins January 1, 2021; January 15, 2021, is the last date to apply for coverage that starts February 1, 2021. 

WEST VIRGINIA

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

WISCONSIN

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

WYOMING

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  December 15, 2020

COVERGE BEGINS:  January 1, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.

START DATE:  November 1, 2020

END DATE:  January 31, 2021

COVERAGE BEGINS:  December 15 is the last day to apply for coverage that begins January 1, 2021. After that date, plan selections made by the 15th of each month during Open Enrollment will be effective on the first day of the following month.

What Do You Do if You Missed Open Enrollment?

If you miss the OEP, you generally won’t be able to sign up for new health insurance or change your existing insurance for the rest of the year. However, if you’ve had certain big changes in your life, you’ll be eligible to purchase insurance outside of the OEP, during a 60-day Special Enrollment Period

These life changes are known as “qualifying events” and they include getting married, having a baby or adopting a child, losing your health insurance as a result of divorce, a legal separation, turning 26 and aging out of a parent’s health insurance plan, losing a job, or moving to a new geographic area. You can read about qualifying events here

If you haven’t had a qualifying event and you’re left without health insurance, you’ll still have some options to fill the gap until the next OEP. One option is purchasing short-term health insurance. These plans provide narrower coverage than what’s required by policies regulated by the Affordable Care Act, but their limited benefits may meet some of your healthcare needs. You can learn more about short-term health insurance here.

Special Enrollment Periods for National Emergencies 

Extraordinary circumstances sometimes trigger additional Special Enrollment Periods when you can purchase health insurance on the Marketplace. These circumstances may include a hurricane, wildfires or other natural disasters.  If you missed an Open Enrollment Period or a Special Enrollment Period because you were impacted by a national emergency that was declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you might have 60 days from the end of the FEMA-designated incident period to complete your enrollment in Marketplace coverage and request a retroactive start date. You can read more about that here.  

As part of their response to the coronavirus pandemic, some states with their own exchanges have opened a Special Enrollment Period for uninsured residents. In several states this window has already closed, but it continues in Maryland until December 15 and it’s ongoing in California. Find out more about Marketplace coverage and COVID-19 here

Next Steps

When life gets busy it’s easy to lose track of a task like applying for health insurance during the Open Enrollment Period. But, your options for coverage that’s best for you and your family are only available during this window. Be sure to start considering your options early so you’ll have lots of time to compare plans and, for expert guidance, consult a licensed insurance broker.  

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