Understanding Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment


Open Enrollment is available NOW through December 15, 2018.  If your employer does not provide health care coverage or you are self-employed, you can purchase, renew, or change your insurance plan for 2019 until December 15, 2018 on healthcare.gov ("the Marketplace").

STEP 1: Visit healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to get started (it is helpful to review this checklist before starting a Marketplace application).

STEP 2: Shop for a plan that meets your needs.

Answer a few quick questions to browse plans, compare coverage, and estimate costs before you apply.

Check this calendar for upcoming Open Enrollment events in your area.

STEP 3: Need help? Click here to make an appointment with a free enrollment expert in your area who can walk your through your options.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Open Enrollment?
A: Open Enrollment is the yearly opportunity to make changes to your existing health insurance plan or purchase a new plan for the upcoming year.

When is Open Enrollment?
A: The 2019 Open Enrollment season runs from November 1 through December 15, 2018.

When do changes made during Open Enrollment go into effect?
A: Changes made during Open Enrollment will be effective January 1, 2018.

How much will it cost?
A: Plans will vary based on a number of factors, including the coverage you choose, your income, your age, etc.  Getting covered could be more affordable than you think.  Eight in ten people qualified for financial help last year, meaning they could find premiums between $50 and $100 per month.  Find out if you are eligible for financial help here.

Can I enroll in January?
A: No.  You must enroll by December 15, 2018 in order to have coverage begin on January 1, 2019.  You may make changes to your plan after December 15 if you have a qualifying life event (birth of a child, change in job, etc.).

What should I do if I purchased health insurance last year through healthcare.gov?
A: If you purchased 2018 health insurance through healthcare.gov, your coverage will end on December 31, 2018.  If you take no action, you will be automatically re-enrolled in your current plan, or if it is no longer offered- something similar. 

There are several important reasons that you should still visit healthcare.gov during open enrollment:

  • Your income and employment information may be out of date. Updating this information will ensure that any financial assistance you receive is calculated accurately - and help keep things simple for you during income tax season.
  • Your insurance company may have made changes to your coverage. Insurers sometimes change things like hospital networks and co-payment rates. Log in to make sure your plan still meets your needs and your budget.
  • New plans may be available that better suit your needs. Even if you were satisfied with your 2018 plan, it's still a good idea to review any new options for 2019 coverage on the marketplace.

What if I have health insurance through my job?
A: The Marketplace is designed for people whose jobs do not provide health care benefits, or individuals who are self-employed and need to buy their own insurance. If you have job-based health insurance you like, you can keep it. You're considered to have what the Affordable Care Act qualifies as minimum essential coverage. You don't need to change to a Marketplace plan in order to avoid the individual mandate penalty.

Will my local hospitals be in my network?
A: You can view exact hospitals and physicians covered when you shop for plans.

What if I have Medicare or Medicaid?
A: If you receive coverage through Medicare or Medicaid, you do not need to apply for health insurance through the Marketplace.

Can I learn more about the plans offered at an in-person event?
A: Yes. Trained NC health care navigators are on hand to help you learn the details of the plans available on the Marketplace, apply for financial assistance, and complete the enrollment process.  All appointments are free and confidential.  Schedule a local, in-person appointment today by visiting NC Navigator or calling 1-855-733-3711.

Where can I get information on the current plan offerings?
A: There are a variety of ways to get information:


Additional Information

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide free or low-cost health coverage to thousands of North Carolinians.  To find out if you are eligible for Medicaid, click here.

Have additional questions? Please call our office at (252) 237-9816.