Open Enrollment 2024: When to Buy a Health Insurance Policy

In most states, open enrollment in 2024 will start on Nov. 1, 2024 and end Jan. 15, 2025.

  • If you need insurance before open enrollment starts, you can sign up any time of the year if you qualify. You'll be eligible if you've moved, lost other insurance, got married, or have another eligible situation that qualifies you for a special enrollment period.
  • During open enrollment, you'll usually need to sign up by Dec. 15, 2024 to get coverage for Jan. 1, 2025. Health insurance plans change each year so comparing options can help you save.

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When is health insurance open enrollment in 2024?

Open enrollment in 2024 begins Nov. 1, 2024 and ends on Jan. 15, 2025.

This is when you can buy individual and family insurance plans from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace or your state's marketplace.

If you have insurance through your job, called group health insurance, your employer decides when you can enroll or make changes to your policy.

Health insurance open enrollment dates by state

State
Where you shop
AlabamaNov. 1, 2024 – Jan. 15, 2025HealthCare.gov
AlaskaNov. 1, 2024 – Jan. 15, 2025HealthCare.gov
ArizonaNov. 1, 2024 – Jan. 15, 2025HealthCare.gov
ArkansasNov. 1, 2024 – Jan. 15, 2025HealthCare.gov
CaliforniaNov. 1, 2024 – Jan. 31, 2025 (renewals begin Oct. 1)Covered California
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2024 dates are estimates based on prior years.

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How to get health insurance in 2024 when it's not open enrollment

If you need health insurance outside of open enrollment, you have to qualify for what's called a special enrollment period. There are a few ways to do this.

  • Moving, having a change in household size or losing health insurance coverage are types of qualifying life events. These qualify you to update your health insurance policy or buy a new plan.
  • If you have a low income, you can sign up for health insurance at any time, without needing to wait for open enrollment. This option is available to those who earn one and a half times the federal poverty level. That's a maximum income of $21,870 per year for individuals and $45,000 for a family of four.

If you get insurance during a special enrollment period, your health insurance coverage usually starts the first of the month after you choose a plan.

When you sign up determines when your health insurance plan begins.

You'll usually need to sign up for insurance by Dec. 15 to have coverage that begins in the new year. So if your coverage ends on Dec. 31, you'll need to sign up for a plan by Dec. 15 to avoid a lapse in coverage.

When you enroll
When your coverage begins
On or before Dec. 15, 2024Jan. 1, 2025
Between Dec. 16, 2024 and Jan. 15, 2025Feb. 1, 2025

Some states have different dates for health insurance open enrollment.

There are extended open enrollment periods in California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

In contrast, Idaho starts and ends its open enrollment period earlier than other states. Where you live also determines whether you use HealthCare.gov or a state marketplace to sign up for health insurance in 2024.

New state marketplaces for signing up for health insurance

state map
state map

Virginia shoppers will use the new Virginia Insurance Marketplace for 2024 plans.

If you live in Georgia, you'll use HealthCare.gov throughout 2024 until open enrollment begins in the fall. Then you'll use the new Georgia Access site to shop for 2025 plans.

Other open enrollment schedules

The open enrollment dates above are only for individual health insurance plans purchased through the ACA marketplace. Other types of health insurance have different enrollment schedules.

  • Medicare: Medicare open enrollment in 2024 runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, 2024.

  • Employer health insurance: If you have health insurance through your job, open enrollment dates are set by your employer.

2024 health insurance changes

In 2024, there are two important changes happening that deal with health insurance enrollment dates.

  • Special enrollment for losing Medicaid and CHIP: If you have lost coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you may have new health insurance enrollment options. Marketplace sites could allow you to get coverage up to 60 days before losing Medicaid or CHIP coverage, or up to 90 days after.
  • Avoiding lapses in coverage: Sometimes, you might know you're going to lose your health insurance coverage at a future date. Marketplaces now have the option to start your plan sooner so you can avoid a lapse in coverage.

There are also some changes that have to do with re-enrolling in the same health plan.

  • Bronze-to-Silver crosswalk policies: If you currently have a Bronze-level plan but you would be eligible for cost-sharing reductions on a Silver plan, you might be re-enrolled in a the Silver plan instead. The Silver plan has to be the same price or cheaper than your Bronze plan and has to use the same network of doctors. Essentially, you may automatically get better coverage for the same or a lower price.
  • Network similarity: If your current health plan is no longer available, your insurance company has to find a similar doctor network to re-enroll you in a plan. You can select a new plan yourself, but if you let the system re-enroll you, your company has to put you in a plan with a similar doctor network as your prior policy.

In 2024, you might also be able to get enrollment help at home. Trained health insurance professionals, called Navigators and Assisters, could previously only educate you about the health insurance products. Now, they can actually help you enroll.


Is health insurance required in 2024?

There is no federal fee for being uninsured, but some states have different rules.

In past years, you had to buy a qualifying health insurance policy or pay a fee. This was called the health insurance mandate. But the rules have changed in recent years, and you might not be required to buy a policy anymore.

  • Federal rules: While health insurance is still technically required, there's no federal penalty for being uninsured. In most states, you won't be punished if you don't buy a policy, but some states have different rules.

  • State rules: A state-level mandate exists in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., making health insurance a requirement for those residents.

Even though there is no federal mandate, it’s important to have health insurance to avoid the high cost of health care. Without health insurance, you could end up wiping out a savings account or having to borrow money to pay medical bills. Some Americans also put off preventive care if they don't have health insurance, which can lead to more severe health issues later on. Having a health insurance policy is a key part of taking care of your physical and financial health.


Frequently asked questions

When is open enrollment for health insurance in 2024?

In most states, you can sign up for health insurance between November 1 and January 15. If you have health insurance through your job, check with your employer to find out your open enrollment dates.

How do you get health insurance after open enrollment?

If you miss open enrollment, you have to qualify for a special enrollment period to get coverage. You might qualify for a special enrollment period if you have a baby, get married, move or lose your prior health insurance. If you have a low income, you could qualify for a monthly special enrollment period. Some programs, like Medicaid and CHIP, are available at any time.

What's the deadline to buy health insurance?

If you want your coverage to start on January 1, you have to sign up by December 15 in most states. If you enroll between December 16 and January 15, your coverage will start on February 1.


Sources and methodology

Open enrollment dates and regulations are based on information from HealthCare.gov and state marketplace sites. Information about 2024 changes to Affordable Care Act Plans comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Editorial note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.