"Open enrollment" is the period of time, once a year, when you can choose or change your insurance provider or what kind of plan options you want -- for example, monthly premium and annual deductible amounts -- for the upcoming calendar year.
For the dates of the next open enrollment period, see What You Need to Know About Obamacare in the District of Columbia.
Choose your health care plan carefully, because after you make your choice, you must usually live with it until the next open enrollment period.
"Special enrollment" is an exception to the usual enrollment rules. If you qualify for special enrollment, you can sign up during a time period outside of the open enrollment period. The circumstances under which you may qualify for special enrollment include:
- moving to a new state
- getting pregnant
- having a baby or adopting a child
- getting married or divorced
- leaving a job and losing your insurance
- losing coverage under your parents’ plan
- losing coverage because someone on your plan has died
- losing other types of health insurance
- losing coverage due to a declined payment through a credit card or debit card auto-payment arrangement
- gaining status as a member of an Indian tribe
- becoming an American citizen, or
- getting out of prison.