2018 Obamacare Open Enrollment Period Cut Short

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If you purchase insurance through the federal government’s Health Insurance Marketplace, stop what you’re doing and go mark the 2018 open enrollment dates on your calendar.

The 2018 open enrollment period for the federal government’s health insurance exchange will run for six weeks — half as long as last year.

Healthcare.gov, the official website for the federal exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, recently announced that open enrollment will start Nov. 1 and end Dec. 15. All plans sold during that time will take effect Jan. 1.

Last year, you could enroll in or change insurance plans as late as Jan. 31.

Key 2018 health insurance dates

The federal government operates the Health Insurance Marketplace — the formal name of the federal exchange — for most states. But other states operate their own exchanges. If you purchase insurance through a state-based exchange, you need to confirm the dates of its open enrollment period.

For a list of the states operating their own exchanges for 2018, and links to their websites, check out the “State-Based Exchanges” page on the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website or this page on Healthcare.gov.

If you obtain health insurance through an employer, Healthcare.gov advises you to ask the employer about 2018 open enrollment dates.

Aside from open enrollment dates, people who buy insurance through public exchanges should keep an eye out for when they can preview actual 2018 health insurance plans. Last year, Healthcare.gov announced on Oct. 24 that Marketplace plans were available for preview with personal price estimates.

Healthcare.gov has yet to say when 2018 plans will be available for preview. But CBS MoneyWatch reported Wednesday that insurance companies have until Sept. 27 to decide whether they want to participate in a public insurance exchange for 2018. So, plans presumably won’t be available until after that date.

Further preparing for open enrollment 2018

Once you’ve marked open enrollment on your calendar and previewed plans, you’ll almost be ready to enroll when the time comes.

Healthcare.gov offers a few suggestions for further preparation, though. If you will be buying insurance through the Marketplace for the first time this year, for example, check out the “Tips to get started in the Health Insurance Marketplace” webpage.

The website also offers a handy printable “Marketplace Application Checklist,” which details all of the documents and information you will need to have on hand when shopping for and buying insurance through the Marketplace.

What’s your take on the federal government’s shortened 2018 open enrollment period? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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