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The do’s and don’ts of preparing for Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment — and Medicare’s Annual Election Period — can be overwhelming. With so many options to choose from in a short amount of time, it can be pretty confusing and hard to keep up with. But help is on the wayWe’ve got some do’s and don’ts to share, so you can take on this annual task with confidence.  

 

First things first: take a deep breathThen grab pen and some paper. With a little preparation, you’ll be on your way to signing up in no time, without any added stress. But before we dive into a to-do list, let’s talk about what we’re preparing for — and how much time we have to do it. 



 

What is Open Enrollment? 

Open Enrollment is the annual period of time when people can enroll in or change their health insurance for the next calendar year. If you miss Open Enrollment or would like to change your plan outside of this time frame, you have to wait for a qualifying event, like getting married, having a baby, or losing health coverage. For more information on qualifying eventshead here 

 

For 2022, health insurance Open Enrollment typically runs from November 1 to January 15 every year, but this also depends on your state. (For example: New York’s Open Enrollment period ends December 31.)

 

What is the Medicare Annual Election Period? 

There are actually two opportunities for those that qualify for Medicare to enroll in or change their coverage.  

 

The first is Medicare’s Annual Election Period, and your selections during this time will go into effect on January 1. The second is Medicare Advantage’s Open Enrollment Period. 

If you qualify for Medicare and are looking into your options for the next year, here’s what you can do:  

 

 

Annual Election Period 

Medicare Open Enrollment  

October 15 – December 7 

  • Change from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to Medicare Advantage (Part C).

  • Change from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare.

  • Switch Medicare Advantage Plans. 

  • Switch from Medicare Part D (prescription drug) Plans. 

  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that does not offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that does. 

  • Enroll in or cancel a Medicare Part D Plan. 

 

January 1 – March 31 

 

  • Switch Medicare Advantage plans. 

  • Return to Original Medicare. 

  • Enroll in a Part D Plan. 

 

Here are the do’s and don’ts of picking a healthcare plan. 

Now that you know when and what you need to sign up for, let’s talk about the do’s and don’ts of how to prepare.  

 

Do: Gather your personal information before you apply.  

When you enroll in or renew your coverage, you’ll be asked to provide information on any dependents, your household income, and key details like your Social Security number and address. If you’re currently enrolled in coverage, you should have your policy handy, too. (This makes it easier to compare it against new plans in case you’d like to switch.) 

 

Don’t: Just assume your current health plan is the best option. 

Plans change annually — and if you’re not careful, you can re-enroll in a plan with higher rates, different coverage options, and a new network of doctors. If you’re happy with your current plan, that’s great! But before you agree to another year of coverage, make sure you read the fine print — just in case.  

 

Do: Make a list of must-haves.   

Do you have a specialist you really like? Would you prefer a plan with easily accessible telemedicine options? By defining a list of must-haves for insurance, it will be that much easier to sift through plans and create your “short list” of ones to choose from. Here are some considerations to get you started:  

  • A big network of doctors  

  • Low monthly costs vs. a low deductible  

  • Prescription drug coverage options 

  • An HSA-eligible plan 

  • Out-of-network coverage options  

  • Your maximum out-of-pocket cost 


Don’t: Wait.  

Your enrollment deadline and signup method (over the phone or online) depend on your primary home state. You’ll want to make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to find a plan and think it over — because after the deadline, you’ll have to wait a whole year (or for a qualifying event) to enroll. 

 

Find your state on the chart below to see your 2021 Open Enrollment deadline.

 

State Open Enrollment Dates
ALABAMA November 1 – January 15, 2022
ALASKA November 1 – January 15, 2022
ARIZONA November 1 – January 15, 2022
ARKANSAS November 1 – January 15, 2022
CALIFORNIA November 1 – January 31, 2022
COLORADO November 1 – January 15, 2022
CONNECTICUT November 1 – TBD
DELAWARE November 1 – January 15, 2022
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA November 1 – January 31, 2022 
FLORIDA November 1 – January 15, 2022
GEORGIA November 1 – January 15, 2022
HAWAII November 1 – January 15, 2022
IDAHO November 1 – December 15, 2021
ILLINOIS November 1 – January 15, 2022
INDIANA November 1 – January 15, 2022
IOWA November 1 – January 15, 2022
KANSAS November 1 – January 15, 2022
KENTUCKY November 1 – January 15, 2022
LOUISIANA November 1 – January 15, 2022
MAINE November 1 – January 15, 2022
MARYLAND November 1 – December 15, 2021
MASSACHUSETTS November 1 – January 23, 2022
MICHIGAN November 1 – January 15, 2022
MINNESOTA November 1 – TBD
MISSISSIPPI November 1 – January 15, 2022
MISSOURI November 1 – January 15, 2022
MONTANA November 1 – January 15, 2022
NEBRASKA November 1 – January 15, 2022
NEVADA November 1 – January 15, 2022
NEW HAMPSHIRE November 1 – January 15, 2022
NEW JERSEY November 1 – January 31, 2022
NEW MEXICO November 1 – January 15, 2022
NEW YORK Through December 31, 2021
NORTH CAROLINA November 1 – January 15, 2022
NORTH DAKOTA November 1 – January 15, 2022
OHIO November 1 – January 15, 2022
OKLAHOMA November 1 – January 15, 2022
OREGON November 1 – January 15, 2022
PENNSYLVANIA November 1 – January 15, 2022
RHODE ISLAND November 1 – TBD
SOUTH CAROLINA November 1 – January 15, 2022
SOUTH DAKOTA November 1 – January 15, 2022
TENNESSEE November 1 – January 15, 2022
TEXAS November 1 – January 15, 2022
UTAH November 1 – January 15, 2022
VERMONT November 1 – December 15, 2021
VIRGINIA November 1 – January 15, 2022
WASHINGTON November 1 – December 15, 2021
WEST VIRGINIA November 1 – January 15, 2022
WISCONSIN November 1 – January 15, 2022
WYOMING November 1 – January 15, 2022 

Do: Define your budget.  

Like your coverage must-haves, creating a budget is just as important. Would you prefer a plan that has a higher monthly cost — but a low deductible? And how high can that monthly cost comfortably be? Determining this now can save you a lot of headache later, because an unexpected health bill can have a huge financial impact 

 

Don’t: Be afraid to ask for help.  

Signing up for a healthcare (or Medicare!) plan is one of the most important things you can do to make you and your family feel safer, have more access, and keep costs down. That’s why Kasasa Care has partnered with KindHealth to create a digital platform to find plans, compare prices, and get help — with ease. You don’t have to do this alone, and KindHealth’s team of Licensed Advisors are standing by to answer your questions, explore your Medicare options (if you qualify), and help you navigate this important time like a pro. Plus, if you have a question about a medical bill or don’t fully understand your benefits, they’re always just a phone call away — long after you’ve enrolled in coverage.

 

As Open Enrollment approaches, it’s easy to feel anxious. Making your healthcare or Medicare choice for the next calendar year is a huge decision, but we hope these tips made you feel more at ease — and more equipped to get enrolled. Be well!  

Tags: Health, Health Insurance, Care, Medicare

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